Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Low levels of contamination also influence mortality rate


Navarre doctor Rosa María Alás Brun has shown, in her PhD thesis defended at the Public University of Navarre, that, despite contamination rates in Pamplona being very low, these still have an influence on death rates.

After analysing the development, between 1991 and 1999, of the levels of five of the most representative contaminants in Pamplona - particles in suspension, sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide and ozone -, Rosa María Alás Brun holds that this level of contamination, despite being low (even below that of the minimum levels recommended by the latest directives of the European Union and the World Health Organisation), “has an influence on the rate of mortality of the population”.

In this vein, the various statistical analyses carried out show a relation “between the increases in the concentration of particles in suspension and the short-term increase in deaths in persons due to non-external causes: specifically cardiac and respiratory causes”.

Particles in suspension involve an ample range of substances dispersed in the air, amongst which are found the so-called ´black smoke´ or particles capable of blackening, derived from the incomplete combustion of carbon and hydrocarbons”.

The increases in the concentration of sulphur dioxide have an influence in the short-term on deaths due to circulatory reasons”. Moreover, “it has to be taken into account that these results are produced despite the fact that the sulphur dioxide level progressively declined during the period analysed, fundamentally, due to increased restrictions on vehicle exhausts and consequent modifications to vehicles, and also to changes in fuel sources with the gradual replacement by natural gas as an energy source”.

In order to understand these results, explains Rosa María Alás Brun, “one has to take into account the short-term effects of atmospheric contamination on mortality that occur in relation to the levels of contamination present in the days prior to death”. Specifically, “the greatest association regarding mortality is between respiratory causes of death and the retarded effects of medium and minimum concentration of particles”.

In the opinion of the author, the observation that the atmospheric contamination levels in a small city such as Pamplona - that do not even reach the limits established by official bodies – have an influence on mortality rates, could be explained in a number of ways: “Firstly, it could be that the limit values of the Directives are too high; secondly, it is possible that, effectively, there is no minimum threshold level where contaminants start to be harmful, but that they are always so at any concentration; or thirdly, the hypothesis could be considered that, amongst all the contaminants there could be one that has not been studied and is responsible for some part of the effects”.

Of the five contaminants analysed in Pamplona, the particles in suspension, sulphur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and carbon monoxide undergo seasonal variations, with maximum levels in winter and minimum in summer.

This seasonal variation is due, according to Rosa María Alás Brun, to the difference of activity in the sources of contamination: “In winter, heating systems are used more and traffic is greater; while in summer there is less vehicular traffic and factories shut down for periods”.

Ozone, however, shows an inverse behaviour, with maximums during the hot months and minimums in the cold ones, given that it is “a secondary contaminant. Nothing emits ozone directly, but it is oxides of nitrogen and other volatile particles that are emitted and it is these which, in sunshine, transform into ozone. This is not the ozone of the stratosphere layer, but the ozone found in the troposphere, in the layer we respire, and which is a toxic gas for us”. The ozone rates are, moreover, greater in rural zones”.

Garazi Andonegi | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

nachricht New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>