Renewable Roundup: Soot from burning fossil fuels makes our lungs more vulnerable to Coronavirus

  • Published on May 13th, 2020

No! Really? We had to find out all over again that soot kills, and that it especially kills those with lung diseases? [sigh] Yes, we had to. And even the unborn. So where are all those Pro-Lifers when we could use their help? Oh. Sorry. Silly me.

climate change pollution emissions

By Mokurai

Placentas Are Caked in Soot from Car Exhaust. Could It Reach the Fetus?

Scientists found that a mother’s relative exposure to air pollution correlates to the amount of soot found in the fetal placenta.

No, duh. So how about we test the newly born, at least?

Clutch Cargo writes—Air Pollution and the Coronavirus:

“Here’s a rather disturbing article on BBC web site, which is rather long, but is worth reading in whole. Some scientists have found evidence that air pollution worsens the effects of the coronavirus. The lungs of people who are exposed to air pollution are more likely to experience more severe symptoms when infected with the virus. And microscopic particles of pollution may carry coronaviruses on their surfaces. Air pollution could partielly explain why certain geographic areas have higher incidences of infection or higher death rates. Of course this is still in the early stages of investigation, but people should be aware of these possibilities. I have included several quotes from the article, but there’s a lot more at the BBC link. How air pollution exacerbates Covid-19.”

Renewable Friday: The Fossil Foolishness Pandemic is Far Worse than Covid-19

We have more than five million deaths from fossil fuel, 8.8 million from air pollution overall every year. Covid-19, with 119,000 [up to 286,000 since I wrote that] confirmed deaths so far, is a blip, a rounding error in the deaths we inflict on ourselves from coal and oil and even natural gas, even though covid-19 is still growing nearly exponentially. We should be screaming from the rooftops. About both.

Despite Link to COVID-19 Deaths, Trump EPA Refuses To Strengthen Soot Standards — Environmental Working Group

Apr 14, 2020 -Ignoring his own scientists and public health advocates, Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler refused today to tighten federal standards for soot emitted from auto tailpipes and smokestacks that causes serious respiratory harm.

The decision comes on the heels of the first nationwide study by a team of disease experts from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health that found COVID-19 sufferers who live in places with air polluted with higher levels of the tiny airborne soot particles known as PM2.5 are far more likely to die than those in areas with cleaner air.

Apr 14, 2020 – Despite an emerging link between air pollution and Covid-19 death rates, the Trump administration will decline to tighten standards on industrial soot emissions that came up for review ahead of the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrew R. Wheeler, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, said his agency will not impose stricter controls on the tiny, lung-damaging industrial particles, known as PM 2.5, a regulatory action that has been in the works for months. The scientific evidence, he said, was insufficient to merit tightening the current emissions standard.

I could tell you what is insufficient here.

The new coronavirus causes a sharply higher death toll among patients in areas with even slightly increased levels of a particularly dangerous form of air pollution, Harvard University researchers conclude in a new national study.

“A small increase in long-term exposure” to fine particles “leads to a large increase in [the] COVID-19 death rate,” the researchers, based at the university’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, wrote in the study posted online this week.

Specifically, they linked an increase in fine particle exposure levels of just 1 microgram per cubic meter of air with a 15% higher death rate from COVID-19. For Manhattan, the findings suggest a drop in long-term average exposure by that 1 microgram threshold would have prevented 248 of the approximately 1,900 virus-related deaths reported as of last Saturday, the paper says.

The study covers almost 3,100 counties in the U.S. up to that date; the results “underscore the importance of continuing to enforce existing air pollution regulations to protect human health both during and after the COVID-19 crisis,” they write.

Apr 14, 2020 —Airborne soot is already responsible for tens of thousands of American deaths each year—and new research shows it could make COVID-19 more deadly. So why is the federal government still giving polluters a pass?

The decision comes days after new research found that heart and lung problems, made worse by breathing dirty air, increase the fatality rate of COVID-19 in the United States—particularly for already vulnerable communities. “This administration is passing up an opportunity to make the air cleaner for millions of Americans—choosing instead to do nothing,” says NRDC president Gina McCarthy. “That’s indefensible, especially in the midst of a health crisis that is hitting people who live in communities with high levels of air pollution the hardest.”

Ignoring COVID-19 Link, EPA Leaves Lax Soot Standard in Place — Society of Environmental Journalists

Apr 29, 2020 — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency did nothing on April 14 — and that was news.

The agency declined to tighten the health standard for fine soot pollution in the air, despite scientific advice that such pollution worsens people’s vulnerability to the coronavirus.

It was more than bad timing (may require subscription). The decision caused consternation among public health advocates, who thought the government should help lessen the threat of COVID-19, not raise it.

Trump EPA declines to tighten soot pollution standards – Reuters

Apr 14, 2020 — The Trump administration on Tuesday said it rejected a recommendation from staff scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency to tighten air quality regulations governing soot pollution, arguing the current standards are adequate to protect human health.

No, not human health. The health of the pocketbooks of our inhuman insect overlords.

Everything for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.

Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

Trump administration heightens environmental racism under cover of covid-19

Apr 23, 2020 — We at the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) are doing our best to keep up the fight for our planet and communities, particularly low-wealth communities and communities of color, who, because of racism and environmental injustices, are both hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis and the ongoing climate crisis. With my previous work at EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection, these issues hit home for me.

The Trump administration is using the coronavirus crisis as cover to roll back environmental safeguards and push forward his polluter agenda, allowing industries to pollute our air amid a respiratory public health crisis unlike any our country has seen in 100 years, or perhaps ever. And, between Trump’s mismanagement of the pandemic and our environment, there are striking similarities in the ways he disregards our communities’ health by consistently ignoring science, scientists, and experts. Here are three of President Trump’s most recent and most egregious actions that undermine the air our communities will breathe during this pandemic.

Air quality is way better in nine major cities after coronavirus … — The Verge

Apr 22, 2020 —  Places typically choked with worse air pollution saw the most extreme drops in fine particulate matter, or soot. Delhi saw a 60 percent reduction.

Despite coronavirus concerns, EPA declines to pursue stricter limits on air pollution

Apr 14, 2020 — Experts say the science supports more restrictions on pollution.

No! Really?

Despite concerns about a link to more severe novel coronavirus cases, the Environmental Protection Agency will not move strengthen requirements on tiny airborne particles of pollution linked to respiratory and cardiovascular illness, saying the current levels are enough to protect Americans.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler cast doubt on some of the science that supports strengthening the standards for soot from power plants, wildfires and agriculture, saying the EPA believes the current standards protect human health while they look at the research further.

“There’s still a lot of uncertainties, and that we believe that the current level that was set by the Obama administration is protective of public health while we continue to look at the uncertainties around (particulate matter),” he said on a call with reporters.

Yes, yes, that’s what the Denialists have said since lead paint and leaded gasoline. Big Tobacco’s PR shills invented the phrase Junk Science to cast doubt on real science.

But as the old cartoon says:

Climate change build a better world

(Crossposted with DailyKos.)

About the Author

Generalist BA, Math and Philosophy Peace Corps, South Korea Buddhist monastic training High-tech market analyst Tech Writer Serial NGO Founder Education for a billion children End poverty at a profit

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