Health Issues

Health Issues
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STEP partners with Tufts on study of highway health risks

Do “ultrafine particles” from combustion engines harm our health, especially for people living close to highways? Early research is already suggesting the answer is yes. STEP is proud to be participating in a local study of this issue, run by the Tufts Community Research Center. The CAFEH (Community Assessment of Freeway Exposure and Health) study, among the first of its kind in the country, will measure ultrafine pollutants and collect and map heart disease data from residents – in Somerville and in Chinatown. Keep an eye on the CAFEH website.
Boston Globe: “Road hazard? Tufts researchers study health risks highways may pose in neighborhoods”
“Since we see associations with asthma and cardiovascular disease with people living near highways, you have to ask what’s causing that,” said Doug Brugge, director of the Tufts Community Research Center and the scientist leading the study, which will begin this summer. “There is a lot of smoke suggesting that there is a fire.”
Map
If you want to learn a whole lot more about this issue. a good place to start is the EPA Particulate Matter site.

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STEP’s Wig Zamore presents to EPA on transportation-related pollution

On April 2, Wig Zamore made a presentation to the EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee on transportation-related air pollution. The slides provide specific data on local communities and existing studies of the relationship between highway pollutants and health problems. Download the study (PDF or PowerPoint).
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Studies on Somerville pollution near highways

The following presentations were given at the recent Conference of the International Society of Environmental Epidemiology and the International Society of Exposure Analysis (ISEE ISEA).
“Spatial and Temporal Distribution of Vehicle Exhaust Emission Gradients Near Highways in Somerville, Massachusetts”
“Traffic-Related Air Pollution in a Densely Populated Urban Area”
“Community Oriented Reuse and Refinement of Available Transportation, Air Quality and Public Health Data to Shape Regional Equity Discussions and Healthier Development Outcomes in Somerville, Massachusetts” (not yet available for download)

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New highway pollution and health study in Somerville gets funding

Tufts University researchers and five Boston-area community groups (including STEP) received a 5-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the health effects of pollution exposure in neighborhoods adjacent to major highways.

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Dangers of fine particulate traffic pollution

U.S. News & World Report: “The Smallest of Pollutants Are Linked to Outsize Health Risks”
Sitting in traffic triples a person’s short-term heart-attack risk. Living in a city with heavy air pollution such as Los Angeles is as risky for the heart as being a former smoker. And having a house near a highway ups the risk of hardened arteries by some 60 percent. In each case, tiny “ultrafine” particles in the air may be a key culprit.

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Traffic pollution’s effects on children’s IQ

A study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that kids who live in neighbourhoods with heavy traffic pollution have lower IQs and score worse on other tests of intelligence and memory than children who breathe cleaner air. Read more.

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Land use and pollution issues on SCAT

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Ellin Reisner and Wig Zamore of STEP, along with Rep. Denise Provost, appeared on “Talking About Somerville” on Somerville Community Access Television in a talk about land use, transportation, and vehicle pollution. The engaging discussion was facilitated by Bob Nesson, also a member of STEP.
Watch the video.

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Wig Zamore’s remarks to the EPA on Particulate Matter

STEP’s Wig Zamore spoke to the EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee and Particulate Matter (PM) Panel last Friday, where the topic was the proposed EPA framework for the next national PM standard setting process.
Identification: My name is Wig Zamore. I speak as a concerned citizen and live in Somerville, Massachusetts where I work with two all volunteer community groups, the Mystic View Task Force and Somerville Transportation Equity Partnership. I also serve on regional land use and transportation planning committees, have presented to the Massachusetts Clean Air (SIP) Steering Committee and represent the City of Somerville on Mass DPH and FAA committees concerned with airport related emissions, health and noise impacts.
Major PM Review Concern: My overwhelming concern is consideration of the impacts of large regional transportation systems on adjacent neighborhoods’ health, including but not limited to chronic mortality impacts from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, ischemic heart disease and lung cancer. And how this gets into your framework as the methods for that are unclear.

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Study: Traffic pollution and exercise risks

“Study: Pollution Raises Exercise Risks”
“People with heart disease may want to steer clear of heavy traffic when exercising or simply take their workout indoors to avoid breathing polluted air.”

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Connecting near-highway pollutants with health problems

A new article on the health risks of near-highway pollution is available from a team at Tufts. From the conclusion: “The most susceptible (and overlooked) population in the US subject to serious health effects from air pollution may be those who live very near major regional transportation routes, especially highways.”
Boston Now: “Tufts researchers warning it can be dangerous to live near highways”
“One California study indicated children who live near a highway from under the age of two may be 70 to 80 percent more likely to develop asthma.”
Read the original article: “Near-highway pollutants in motor vehicle exhaust: A review of epidemiologic evidence of cardiac and pulmonary health risks.”

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