Particulates slipping through industry cracks.
There may be more to air pollution than what meets the eye.
In fact, it is the fine minute particles slipping through industrial scrubbers and government regulations that have created enough concern to spur Dr. Stacey Ritz, immunologist researcher at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine The Northern Ontario School of Medicine is a medical school created through a partnership between Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario and Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario. , to initiate a five-year study on the chemical characterization and biological effects of particulate air pollution in Sudbury. She spent a year researching the links between air pollution and allergic disease at the University of California The University of California has a combined student body of more than 191,000 students, over 1,340,000 living alumni, and a combined systemwide and campus endowment of just over $7.3 billion (8th largest in the United States). in Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. , California.
With an opportunity to set up her own lab and research projects, Ritz has a variety of projects on the go studying the effects of different air pollutants on biological systems. What makes this study unique is its interdisciplinary approach to how the chemistry of particulate air pollution translates into biological impact.
"It is a tough combination because the type of expertise needed for both are very different," she says, thus, the need for a collaborative effort.
Partnered with chemistry specialist Dr. Graeme Spiers, the study began in January 2007. Although five years is proposed, Ritz anticipates it will spill over Verb 1. spill over - overflow with a certain feeling; "The children bubbled over with joy"; "My boss was bubbling over with anger"
bubble over, overflow
seethe, boil - be in an agitated emotional state; "The customer was seething with anger"
2. into a longer period of time.
"I expect once we start doing those studies, the results will give us new avenues to explore and new questions will come up," she says.
Ritz developed the idea for the study after working with Health Canada Health Canada (French: Santé Canada) is the department of the government of Canada with responsibility for national public health.
Health Canada's goal is to improve Canadian life by improving Canadian longevity, lifestyle and use of public healthcare. scientist Dr. Renaud Vincent, who had collected particulate in Ottawa and performed a similar study. Ritz believes pollution can vary from city to city depending on the type of industry, population, transportation, human activity and natural sources like dust, erosion, forest fires This is a list of notorious forest fires: North America
Year Size Name Area Notes
1825 3,000,000 acres (12,000 km²) Miramichi Fire New Brunswick Killed 160 people. , etc.
There have been many epidemiological studies (study of epidemics among large human populations) performed in this field identifying possible relationships, but very little has been done involving biological effects from specific components of the particles.
Interested in the smaller particles found in air pollution that may be escaping from industrial filters and scrubbers, Ritz questions if the current regulated levels for pollution, which are based on mass, are acceptable. Since larger particles are heavier, greater focus has been on reducing larger, more obvious particles in air pollution.
"Increasingly, the scientific evidence that is evolving over the last number of years is saying that mass is not that important."
As more particulate studies come to the fore Verb 1. come to the fore - make oneself visible; take action; "Young people should step to the fore and help their peers"
come forward, step forward, step to the fore, step up, come out , greater attention is turning to the impact the smaller particles may have upon the human body.
"It is the little, hard to measure particles that are getting deep into our lungs and even into the blood."
Ritz explains the important factor in determining the health effects has to do with the number of particles or the surface area of the particles. "Those are things that don't necessarily relate well to mass."
She says even though we have reduced the mass in terms of output, we may have increased the number of smaller particles, and inadvertently, caused greater harm.
"It's hard for people to wrap their minds around it, because there is the perception among scientists and laypeople lay·peo·ple or lay people
Laymen and laywomen. alike that we have less pollution now."
Consequently, Sudbury is an interesting area of study due to its long-standing smelting operations of local mining companies where substantial amounts of airborne contaminants airborne contaminants,
n.pl materials in the atmosphere that can affect the health of persons in the same or a nearby environment. Also referred to as
air pollution. in both gaseous and particulate form are produced and released. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the 2005 National Pollutant Release Inventory, the CVRD-INCO smelter complex at Copper Cliff is the second-largest industrial source of total air pollution emissions in Canada. As well, sulphur emissions from the super stack have been reportedly dispersed beyond a 60-kilometre radius. Recent studies recorded the concentration of metals in particulate matter particulate matter
n. Abbr. PM
Material suspended in the air in the form of minute solid particles or liquid droplets, especially when considered as an atmospheric pollutant.
Noun 1. (PM) collected in Sudbury had higher concentration of metals, particularly manganese, iron, cobalt and nickel. Although the Ontario Ministry of the Environment monitors fine PM in Sudbury, the National Air Pollution Networks do not.
Whether or not the outcomes of this study will influence policy and lead to tighter regulations on fine PM remains to be seen.
By ADELLE LARMOUR
For Northern Ontario Business Northern Ontario Business is a Canadian magazine, which publishes monthly in Greater Sudbury, Ontario. The magazine covers business news and issues in Northern Ontario.