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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Soot and Death
6 June 1997 (All day)
Scientists have linked two key air pollutants with increased death rates in 12 European cities. The findings, published in tomorrow's issue of the British Medical Journal, are sure to fuel a contentious debate in Europe and in the United States over proposed standards that would sharply reduce exposure to airborne pollutants.
An international team led by Klea Katsouyanni of the University of Athens analyzed daily fluctuations in levels of two pollutants--sulfur dioxide and particulates--and death rates in cities. They found that an average increase of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of either sulfur dioxide or black smoke (small particulates) on a given day was associated with a 3% average increase in deaths in the Western European cities studied--Athens, Barcelona, Cologne, London, Lyon, Milan, and Paris. Such pollutant levels, however, were linked to a smaller rise in death rates in the Eastern and central European cities of Bratislava, Kraków, Lódz, Poznan, and Wroclaw: Sulfur dioxide was linked to a 0.8% increase in deaths, and black smoke nudged it up 0.6%.
It's unclear why people in Eastern and central Europe, with higher average pollution levels, seem to be at less risk from daily increases in air pollution. "This was not an effect we expected," says Katsouyanni. One possibility, she and other experts speculate, is that elderly people are more vulnerable to the ill effects of air pollution and that because Eastern Europeans have a shorter average life expectancy, their cities have fewer people at risk.
The regional discrepancy is being addressed in further studies under the European Union's Air Pollution and Health: A European Approach project.