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ENGLAND SEVERE AIR POLLUTION SPECIAL DANGER TO CHILDREN AND OTHERS

3 Mar 2014

Prof Frank Kelly, Chair of the Department of Health’s Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution, and a member of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ Air Quality Expert Group said: “Schools in areas affected by severe air pollution should keep pupils indoors at lunchtime to avoid them having asthma attacks and potentially lifelong lung damage…(they) should be stopped from using the playground during school hours to reduce their exposure to the smog that is affecting south-east England and is expected to spread to the Midlands and East Anglia”. Prof. Kelly’s advice comes after some schools in the capital decided to keep their pupils indoors on 2 Apr 2014 as a precaution. Asked to elaborate, Prof Kelly said: “As a general response this is a good approach as children tend to run around outside and therefore breathe deeper. Thus on days like this they will be inspiring(breathing-in) a lot more pollution if outdoors than when they are breathing normally (hopefully) inside…The policy should apply to morning and afternoon breaks, as well as lunchtime…Advice would be the same for recesses if pollution levels were increased at the school location…pupils with asthma may need to use their inhalers, while those with other breathing conditions could suffer serious harm if exposed to the high level of pollution being seen in London”. NOTICE THAT PROF. KELLY USED THE WORD “SMOG”.

LONG TERM DAMAGE OF AIR POLUTION IN THE YOUNG Prof. Kelly added: “Besides those children whose asthma may be exacerbated by pollution and who would then need to increase their medication, the main issue is related to pollution exposure on a chronic basis as current evidence indicates that lung growth is restricted. If there is no subsequent catch-up lung growth then this respiratory deficit is carried forward through life”. BAD NEWS! IN NORTH LONDON – Tom Sheldon, chair of governors at Bowes and Chesterfield primary said: “When schools are faced with conditions like these, we have to decide what is best for children. In the absence of any formal advice from government we decided to keep children inside today (2 Apr 2014) as a precaution…But we can’t do this forever, and in London we face the much wider problem of poor air quality every day. The Saharan dust will pass, but London will continue to fail its citizens on air quality. Children’s developing lungs are at particular risk, both long- and short-term”. His last sentence echoed Prof. Kelly’s warning.

ONE CITIZEN’S COMPLAINT/WORRY Leanne Stewart said: ”We urgently need an intensive program of pollution reduction in the capital (London)”. Accompanying my son to school is usually quite an easy half-mile walk, but yesterday, I could feel my chest getting tighter and tighter, I went light-headed and had to get a bus back. …I’ve never had that problem before” Leanne’s son, George (age 8) had an asthma attack, and had to stop and use his inhaler. He felt like the air wasn’t getting into his lungs during his half-mile walk to school in Eltham, S.E. London.

ADULTS TOO MUST OBSERVE BREATHING PRECAUTIONS “The British Lung Foundation” urged people in affected areas who cycle, walk, or run to work to avoid doing so at rush hour, and to use backstreets if possible. People with lung conditions such as asthma, should avoid doing strenuous exercise outdoors. Dr Keith Prowse, the charity’s honorary medical adviser said: “Heavy air pollution, of the kind we’re seeing in several places across GB at the moment, can have a significant impact on people with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma, worsening symptoms such as coughing and breathlessness…When levels of air pollution are high, people with these conditions, or anyone else who finds themselves coughing or wheezing in times of high pollution, should avoid strenuous exercise outdoors, particularly around pollution hotspots such as busy roads. If the option is available, exercising in an air-conditioned gym or sports hall is preferable…If they cycle, run or walk to work, commuting at times other than rush hour or along back streets is also advisable. People with lung conditions who use a reliever inhaler should make sure that they carry it with them. If they feel their condition is worsening at all, they should contact their Physician”. Enough said for the wise!

Thanks to “The Guardian”-(GB) for sharing this story. We have condensed it, but commend it to you for its accompanying photos, and illustrations.> http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/apr/02/pupils-indoors-lunch-smog-uk-government-adviser

OUR TAKE AND COMMENT

Alas! De je vu all over again! While this story is centered on the nefarious effects of Smog in children; unfortunately, it applies to all air breathing creatures (including adult humans). Smog is not new to London, home of the Industrial revolution (c. 1830). Fortunately, or unfortunately, Brits have always excelled in the design of engines of all kinds, and have produced some of the world’s finest machinery of all sorts. What may well have kick-started the industrial revolution was the invention of the Watt stationary steam engine, and subsequent derivative external combustion engines used in factories, locomotives, ships, etc. Unfortunately, all such engines were most easily fueled by coal, thus contributing to improved coal mining, improved production and leading to GB dominance in the world markets for finished goods during the Victorian era. All this required ever greater amounts of coal being burned as the best available source of energy. London had always relied in coal for home heating, only then, it was a much smaller city.

THE USA TOOK A SIMILAR ROUTE TO PROGRESS The same process took place in USA a few years later. Bottom line is the birth of KING COAL there here and everywhere. As we have learned since, not all coal is of the same quality, but its combustion is a huge contributor to air pollution; furthermore autos/trucks also make significant contribution to air pollution; notably in cities. Today air pollution (smog) is characterized as “Particulate matter (dust)”, noxious gasses: Sulfurous oxides, nitrogenous oxides, industrial by-products. Stationary sources” such as: Coal-fired Utilities, Petro-chemical refineries, other heavy industrial s such as steel, metals, and even corn/foods processing plants. PROBLEM IS: These greedy folks won’t do a dammed thing to clean-up their act.

ENTER: REV. ROBERT MALTHUS A sad chapter in GB, and world history, was the credence given by Industrialists of the Industrial revolution to the socio-economic theories of Rev. Robert Malthus.(1766- 1834). He was the 7th son of a well-to-do family who became a cleric, and was reputed to be a great orator despite a hereditary harelip condition. Said Malthus: “Yet, in all societies, even those that are most vicious, the tendency to a virtuous attachment is so strong that there is a constant effort towards an increase of population. This constant effort as constantly tends to subject the lower classes of the society to distress and to prevent any great permanent amelioration of their condition”. Malthus argued in his Essay (1798) that population growth generally expanded in times and in regions of plenty, until the size of the population relative to the primary resources caused distress, often interpreted as: “Give the lower classes enough to eat, and they will reproduce until they outstrip the land’s resources; so it is best they be kept too tired and hungry to be amorous”. Apparently, Industrialists everywhere agreed with Malthus that it was beneficial for the working class to be kept over-worked, and underfed – “for their own good”. Malthus’ thinking lost credence among his peers long before his death (one supposes it was not longer “politically correct”); Even so, American Industrialists J.D. Rockefeller, and others in America, evidently adopted Malthus’ thinking, and mistreated/ overworked their workers – But not for long! It should be noted that such a philosophy toward workers has been was independently pursued by many others, including Mao Tse Tung, and that Malthusian thinking still echoes in the ranks of Conservative politicians in the USA today. IT IS CLEAR TO ME THEY SEE THE CURRENT WAGE DISPARITY AS NECESSARY TO THEIR DOMINANCE AND PERSONAL PROFIT. Thinking prevails, and not for naught, that power and privilege still abounds in America.

GETTING BACK TO “KILLER POLLUTION” It may be argued that London saw worse coal air pollution during the Industrial revolution, but that in no way benefits now highly industrialized London. In truth, today’s killer pollution is in many ways more toxic than any seen in GB before. It is dogmatic, that while all air pollution blows somewhere, it almost always affects most direly those who produce it. That takes us back to the citizens of London current preoccupation; specially, regarding their children and those with respiratory impairments. The comments by leading British authorities regarding steps to take to mitigate the smog damage to human health should resonate among those cities afflicted by similar smog conditions. Oh yes! There are too many to count. Let us all take counsel, and look for ways to cease/desist coal burning and limit petrol burning as well. It is killing us. There are technical advances looming that could eliminate fossil fuel burning in the future. We must steel ourselves, and our children, to survive until that brave new world arrives. Let’s hang in there! That is what we do in Texas too.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

P.S. We are happy to announce that our readership doubled in Mar 2014 over the previous month. Welcome to our new readers! Perhaps some of you are passing out the word about us. We will continue to strive to provide you with a fresh viewpoint you are not likely to find elsewhere. As always, we do not solicit or accept funding for this publication as a social service.

e-mail: gonzedo@yahoo.com


April 3, 2014 at 9:35 PM
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