Air pollution may decrease eggs in women’s ovaries

June 26, 2019 by  
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Air pollution doesn’t only affect your lungs as new research suggests air quality may also be linked to a decrease in the number of eggs in women’s ovaries. It has long been known that environmental factors impact our reproductive systems, and multiple studies linked low sperm count with environmental indicators, but fewer examine the connection to ovaries. This newest study, presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology is the first to look at the prevalence of eggs and not just fertility. Italian researchers collected hormone samples from 1,300 Italian women and compared their levels of the AMH hormone to air quality metrics. The AMH hormone typically signals a woman’s egg “reserves” but can also fluctuate depending on the woman’s age, genetics and if they are a smoker. Related: Almost all U.S. national parks have polluted air Researchers found that lower AMH hormone levels were associated with higher air pollution indices. This suggests that air pollution may be connected to lower egg count in ovaries. However, researchers also recognize that often air pollution is concentrated in areas with lower income and other environmental justice issues, therefore there are likely confounding factors that also impact women’s ovaries within these areas. The study also did not measure direct exposure to air pollution, only indirect exposure via the average air pollution index at the participants’ home address. “Living in an area associated with high levels of air pollutants in our study increased the risk of severely reduced ovarian reserve by a factor of two or three,” said Dr. Antonio La Marca, who led the research. Other studies have similarly linked air quality with womens’ reproductive health, including one study that links pollution with irregular menstrual cycles and another that connected ozone pollution with decreased fertility . More research is needed to clarify the findings and determine if this is a temporary or permanent effect for women. Via The Guardian Image via Ian MacNicol

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Air pollution may decrease eggs in women’s ovaries

Sustainably-sourced sunglasses built to last a lifetime rather than a season

June 26, 2019 by  
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Living a sustainable lifestyle is about more than backyard composting and prolific use of Mason jars in lieu of plastic. To truly reach any level of sustainability we need to be aware of every purchase we make including how the product was made and even the packaging used. Although our conscientious purchasing decisions carry weight, corporate responsibility is where the real change will occur — enter Just Human. Just Human feels the burden of that responsibility and has decided to do something about it in the form of long-lasting, quality sunglasses built to last a lifetime, not a season. Related: These sustainable sunglasses smell like coffee and decompose into fertilizer The creation of the sunglasses released earlier this year began with four principals: Focus on the entire system of product creation, from materials to manufacturing to packaging. Streamline the design so that there are only a few products in production, each with a unisex design to serve as many people as possible. Combine function and fashion with a high-performing lens. Focus on durability for a product that won’t end up in the landfill anytime soon. Rather than relying on cheap synthetic materials that have become mainstream in the industry, Just Human sources material for the frames from softwood trees that are sustainably harvested and have earned FSC certification. The glass lenses are made from sand and minerals instead of petroleum-based plastic. Even the cutoffs from lens production are recycled and used for the next round of lens material. Pineapple leaf fibers (we’re hearing a lot about these lately!) and recycled water bottles make up the material for the case that house the sunglasses. The included cleaning cloth is produced using fabric made from 2.5 plastic water bottles . Carrying the eco-friendly idea through to the packaging, Just Human uses 100 percent post-consumer cardboard, eco-friendly inks and compostable tape made from wood pulp. Just Human understands that a focus on sustainability is a mute point if the product doesn’t meet the needs of the consumer so they’ve aimed to combine that focus with function and fashion. Incorporating sports technology into the lens allows them to filter out damaging UVs and glare while providing heat and scratch resistance. In the end, the goal is to provide a luxury product that will endure decades of use without impacting the planet . Wouldn’t it be nice if more companies adopted this simple philosophy? + Just Human Images via Just Human

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New sensor precisely measures air pollution

June 21, 2019 by  
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Scientists agree that air pollution shortens the lives of many Europeans every year, but they have a hard time accurately measuring it. Now, thanks to new sensor technology developed at Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology , pinpointing air pollution and calculating its effects may become much easier. This new optical nano-sensor detects nitrogen dioxide concentrations down to the parts-per-billion level. The underlying concept is an optimal phenomenon called a plasmon, which has to do with plasma oscillation in physics. Scientists use the sensors to detect illuminated metal nanoparticles absorbing certain wavelengths of light— by which they can measure pollution. Related: Earliest human air pollution detected in glaciers The World Health Organization estimates that air pollution causes 550,000 premature deaths in Europe annually and 7 million worldwide. “Air pollution is a global health problem,” says Chalmers researcher Irem Tanyeli, who helped develop the sensors. “To be able to contribute to increased knowledge and a better environment feels great. With the help of these small, portable sensors, it can become both simpler and cheaper to measure dangerous emissions extremely accurately.” The university research team worked with the Gothenburg-based company Insplorion— co-founded by Christoph Langhammer, a Chalmers physics professor— to bring the sensors out of the lab and onto the streets of Gothenburg. “This is a great example of how a university and a company can collaborate. Both parties contribute with their expertise to create a new product, contributing to a more sustainable society,” said Langhammer. Sensors are already installed on the roof of a huge Gothenburg shopping mall and will soon be placed along a local railway tunnel construction project. The sensors can also be calibrated to measure other gases. “Nitrogen dioxide is just one of the many substances which can be detected with the help of optical nanosensors. There are great opportunities for this type of technology ,” said Langhammer. Companies and universities inside and outside Sweden have already been in contact to see if the nano-sensors could help their aims. Via mynewsdesk Images via Chalmers University of Technology

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Jakarta’s massive bus system pilots electric vehicles

June 3, 2019 by  
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Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta, is piloting a program to transition from public buses to electric vehicles . Jakarta’s bus system is the largest in the world with over 200 million riders and new routes added every year. The addition of cleaner vehicles promises to have a significant impact on the city’s toxic levels of air pollution. Starting in April, the city began testing electric buses produced by Chinese and Indonesian manufacturers. After the pilot trials, the city will test the buses with passengers. The city’s governor, Anies Baswedan is determined to make Jakarta one of the greenest cities in the world and cleaner transportation is a big step towards that goal. Related: UK-based company is making home delivery as green as possible with e-cargo bikes “We see the move toward electric vehicles as a vital way to combat air pollution and transition to a greener future. The electric bus trial program will give us a good sense of the changes we need to make to the system to ultimately replace all of Jakarta’s fleet of public vehicles with electric models,” said Transjakarta Chief Executive Officer Agung Wicaksono. The United Nation’s Environment Program is providing support for the initiative as part of their effort to reduce air pollution . In Asia and the Pacific alone, air pollution kills 4 million people every year. Bert Fabian, Program Officer for the UN Environment Program’s Air Quality and Mobility Unit, said: “The transition to electric mobility can have a dramatic effect in reducing pollutants and making cities healthier and more enjoyable places to live.” For some Jakarta residents, though, the clean vehicle program cannot come soon enough. This month, 57 residents unified to sue the city for its inability to address unacceptable air pollution . The lawsuit, which will be filed on June 18, will pressure the government to do more to clean up the air in the city and argues that transportation is only partially responsible. Citizens also call on the government to crack down on coal-fired industries surrounding the city. + U.N. Environment Program Image via Shutterstock

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Architects to transform two old railway yards into eco parks in Milan

May 14, 2019 by  
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OMA and Milan-based Laboratorio Permanente have won a competition to transform two abandoned railway yards in Milan into eco parks that will act as “ecological filters” for the car-centric city. Titled Agenti Climatici (Climatic Agents), the master plan would use the natural, air-purifying power of plants and the filtering capabilities of water to clean and cool the environment while adding new recreational spaces for the public. The project is part of a larger effort to redevelop disused post-industrial areas around the periphery of the city. The Agenti Climatici master plan addresses two railway yards: the 468,301-square-meter Scalo Farini on the north side of Milan and the 140,199-square-meter Scalo San Cristoforo on the south side of the city. The designers have designated Scalo Farini as the “green zone” that will consist of a large park capable of cooling the hot winds from the southwest and reducing air pollution . Scalo San Cristoforo has been dubbed the “blue zone” after the designers’ plan to turn the railway yard into a linear waterway that will naturally purify runoff and create cooling microclimates. “In a moment of dramatic environmental transformation and permanent economic uncertainty, our priorities have changed,” said OMA partner Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli. “The most valuable currency is no longer ‘brick’ — the built — but rather the climatic conditions that cities will be able to provide and ensure for their citizens. The city of the 20th century, with its high energy consumption , must be overcome by reconsidering the principles that have marked urban development since the classical era.” Related: CRA grows a sustainable pavilion out of mushrooms in just 6 weeks For adaptability, only the public elements of the Farini park will be fixed — including the waterways, greenery and bridges — while the location of the buildings and their programming will be contingent on the city’s future economic development. The master plan also calls for Milan’s longest expressway bicycle lane alongside a new tram line and metro stations. + OMA + Laboratorio Permanente Images via OMA and Laboratorio Permanente

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Green roofs can improve air quality inside buildings

April 15, 2019 by  
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A new study has found that green roofs do a lot more than just provide extra space to grow plants. These eco-friendly roofs can also enhance air quality inside of buildings by reducing the ozone levels that come in from the outdoors. Scientists at Portland State University conducted the study at a large commercial building in Portland. Researchers installed devices on the roof, which was split between a traditional membrane and a green roof. The devices measured ozone levels of the air surrounding the building. They discovered that plants on the roof helped to trap ozone, preventing it from coming into the building. Related: 9 ways to add more houseplants to your home The new study adds to the growing list of green roof benefits. According to Phys.org , this includes the ability to filter carbon dioxide, cut down on excess water runoff after big storms and reduce heat in urban environments. Not to mention all of the veggies and plants that can be grown, cultivated and even shared with the local community. But how does the vegetation trap ozone and remove it from the air? The process of trapping ozone is called dry deposition, where particles in the air accumulate on solid surfaces. The process of dry deposition is completely natural and has been proven to be an effective way of filtering air. Prior to the new research, however, scientists did not know that a green roof could actually improve air quality indoors. It should be noted that the study, which was published last month in Building and Environment, only took place over a few days. The scientists who led the research effort have admitted that more studies that measure pollutants trapped over a long period should be completed. They also want to look at other pollutants other than just ozone. Once this happens, we will better understand the broader benefits of green roofs and just how much they can contribute to better indoor air quality. + Portland State University Via Phys.org Image via Urformat

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London becomes the first city to have an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)

April 10, 2019 by  
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London is officially the first city to have an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). The zone, which is active all hours of the day and night, will improve air quality in the city by cutting down on pollution caused by vehicle emissions . Any vehicle traveling inside the ULEZ will have to meet strict emission codes or be subject to fines. Scientists believe that vehicle emissions, specifically nitrogen oxide, account for the majority of air pollution in London and are a serious threat to public health. These harmful chemicals have been known to increase risks of dementia and cancer. Related: Teens exposed to air pollution more likely to experience psychotic episodes, new study says “This is a landmark day for our city. Our toxic air is an invisible killer responsible for one of the biggest national health emergencies of our generation,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan shared. The ULEZ was activated on April 8 and any vehicles traveling inside the zone that do not meet emissions standards will face charges of around $16 per day. Larger vehicles, such as trucks and buses, will have to pay heftier fines upwards of $130. The zone currently covers an area roughly four miles in size and will be expanded to a much larger area by the fall of 2021. The ULEZ is part of a larger plan to discourage high-emission vehicles from travelling around London. The first stage of the plan initiated what was called a T-charge, which went into effect in the winter of 2017. In the two years since, London has witnessed a drop of around 11,000 vehicles every day from the targeted area. The plan has also increased the number of vehicles becoming compliant with emissions standards in the area. The city’s famous fleet of red double-decker buses, for example, is being upgraded to comply with the new ULEZ.  There are approximately two million residents who live inside the ULEZ, and officials hope the new plan will improve the quality of air so that it meets standards enacted by the European Union. London may be the first city to enact an Ultra Low Emission Zone, but other locations, like New York City, are looking into similar plans. Via CNN Image via  Shrinkin’ Violet

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Teens exposed to air pollution more likely to experience psychotic episodes, new study says

April 1, 2019 by  
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Air pollution may have more long-term effects on teens than previously thought. A new study conducted in the U.K. found that adolescents who are exposed to pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, harmful particles and nitrogen dioxide , are more likely to experience psychotic episodes during their teen years. People living in densely populated, urban areas have increased risks of having clinical psychosis. This includes disorders like schizophrenia. Prior to the new study, researchers had yet to start any long-term projects that explore the relationship between air pollution and these mental disorders, despite pollution becoming a growing issue in urban locations. Related: Air pollution is killing Europeans at an alarming rate The new study, published in  Jama Psychiatry ,  looked at more than 2,200 children in the U.K. and examined the link between air pollution and mental health . The study was conducted over an 18 year period and included children from various socioeconomic backgrounds and geographic locations. In over 92 percent of the cases, the test subjects reported some kind of psychotic experience, such as having intense paranoia or hearing voices. “We found that adolescent psychotic experiences were more common in urban areas,” explained Joanne Newbury, one of the lead scientists on the study at King’s College London. Newbury added that they were unable to directly link the psychotic experiences of teens in the study with air pollution. Their findings, however, strongly suggest that these harmful chemicals are a contributing factor in the connection between urban populations and psychosis. It should be noted that the study took into account biological factors, and the scientists admitted that psychosocial mechanisms, such as stress, could also be at work. By 2050, experts estimate that over 70 percent of the world’s human population will be living in cities. With more and more people gravitating toward urban locations, it is vastly important that we discover why city dwellers are more susceptible to mental disorders. Although there are likely multiple connections to be made, the harmful gases and particles that commonly make up air quality should not be ignored. According to King’s College London , scientists hope to initiate more studies on the link between air pollution and psychosis, with long-term research being the key focal point. + Jama Psychiatry Via EcoWatch and  King’s College London Image via David Holt

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A passive solar home embraces nature with a reduced footprint

April 1, 2019 by  
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Walls of glass pull the outdoors in at the Lake Manitouwabing Residence, a new four-season family residence designed by MJMA (MacLennan Jaunkalns Miller Architects) to replace a 1930s abode. Located in the Ontario town of McKellar, the contemporary house was engineered to embrace indoor-outdoor living without compromising energy savings. To that end, the architects designed the house to take advantage of passive heating and cooling and integrated energy-saving technologies such as concrete radiant floor heating and low-E glazing. Set on a west-facing peninsula, the Lake Manitouwabing Residence blends into the pine-studded landscape with its low-lying profile, flat roofs and dark timber cladding. The home is oriented to the south and west for warmth, natural light and views of the lake, which are captured through full-height glazing that wraps around the living areas for fluid indoor/outdoor spaces. The expansive home covers nearly 3,000 square feet of space laid out in a U-shaped floor plan that wraps around a central courtyard punctuated by a uniquely cleft rock. “The project was developed around the goal of enhanced outdoor living and social gathering,” the architects explained in a statement. “A rectangular plan is carved to create interlocking outdoor terrace and courtyard spaces featuring an expansive and levitating lake deck and screened porch. Extensive flat roofs recall warmer latitude mid-century precedents and float outward to frame the quintessential Canadian shield horizon.” Related: Santa Barbara home is surrounded by wooden screens for natural climate control Deep overhangs jut out over the walls of glass along the home’s south and west sides to mitigate unwanted solar heat gain in the summer while allowing light and warmth to come through in winter. In contrast, the north and east facades are mostly opaque and heavily insulated to protect against winds and heat loss. Low-E glazing and an R-35 roof combined with a high-efficiency boiler, HRV and convection wood stove optimize energy efficiency. + MJMA Via ArchDaily Photography by Shai Gil via MJMA

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Anti-pollution skincare products: Everything you need to know

April 1, 2019 by  
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Anti-pollution skincare products are the latest trend in the skincare industry. As people battle an increasingly toxic atmosphere, these products promise to combat harmful particles associated with pollution in major cities. These products work by cleansing the skin from nanoparticles that are absorbed from the air or by creating a protective barrier that acts as a shield against pollutants. But just how effective are anti-pollution skincare products? The need for pollution protection The call for beauty products that are anti-pollution has significantly increased as city dwellers around the world continue to battle poor air quality . The micro-particles present in pollution have been proven to age skin at a rate similar to the sun, leading many people to look for ways to protect their body. Online searches for skincare products that are anti-pollution have gone up some 73 percent this year alone. This shows how much people are concerned about the aging effects of pollution and how it harms skin. Related: Add this all-in-one natural skincare to your bathroom counter “We’re seeing an increasing global demand for skincare which counters pollution-related skin concerns including dull skin, inflammation, sensitized skin, blemishes, clogged pores and accelerated ageing,” Dr. Anna Persaud, the head of This Works makeup company, explained. Pollution causes skin issues Studies have shown that certain pollutants in the atmosphere can lead to skin-related problems. The University of British Columbia lead a study that connected nitrogen dioxide to dark spots on the skin. Nitrogen dioxide is a result of car exhaust and emissions from power plants. While people are more aware of the harmful effects of pollution, cities continue to battle poor air quality. In fact, the World Health Organization released a study in 2016 that showed how air pollution had increased eight percent over the previous five years. In densely populated cities around the world – such as Delhi and Beijing – the public is often warned about hazardous levels of air pollution. Indoor pollution is also a growing issue Air quality indoors is also something people need to be concerned about when it comes to skincare. Indoor pollution comes from a variety of sources, from cooking and heating to cleaning products that off-gas into the environment, all of which can damage the health of your skin. With people battling pollution at every turn, there is little wonder that the anti-pollution skincare industry has grown so much over the past decade. How does anti-pollution skincare work? Products that are marketed as anti-pollution help shield the skin from harmful dust particles, very similar to how sunscreens work. Other skincare products remove pollutants from the skin after you have been exposed. The most popular of these types of products are beauty masks, which cleanse the skin at a deeper level than traditional masks. Peach and Lilly , for example, offer a series of anti-pollution masks and other products that are aimed at reducing the effects of microparticles. While these products can remove harmful nanoparticles, there are no scientific studies to back up their effectiveness. The lack of data is largely due to the fact that anti-pollution skincare has not been around long. Another factor is that the products are only used once a day, and after the masks are removed the skin is once again open for exposure. Tips for choosing the best anti-pollution skincare products While masks can remove pollutants in the short-term, leave-on products are the best way to combat microparticles in the atmosphere. These types of products will protect you for longer durations of time and prevent your skin from coming into contact with harmful particles in the first place. You can also look for products that contain high levels of probiotics. These chemicals can help build up the skin’s natural defenses and form a barrier against pollution-related skin issues. That is not to say that anti-pollution masks are not beneficial, but they do leave the skin open to future attacks. The science behind anti-pollution skincare A lot of the anti-pollution skincare products feature vitamin C as the main ingredient. Vitamin C can lighten skin tone – which helps combat those dark spots linked to pollution – and decreases discoloration. Another common ingredient in these types of products are antioxidants, many of which are actually backed by science. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of studies that prove barrier products are effective at keeping particles from invading your skin. That does not mean they do not work, but more studies need to be done to prove just how effective they are in creating a pollution barrier. Given the popularity of these types of products , it won’t be long before additional research is completed. Fighting pollution While products that protect the skin are great, the bigger issue is fighting pollution at its source. Many cities are initiating eco-friendly policies to help curb emissions, but more work needs to be done if we are serious about combating the effects pollution has on our health. Unfortunately, companies that manufacture anti-pollution skincare products have little motivation to fight pollution at a large scale, as doing so would ultimately hurt their bottom line. Via The Guardian , Racked Images via Rawpixel , Moose Photos , Stux ,  AdinaVoicu ,  joiseyshowaa

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