COP24 some personal impressions

I recently returned from the U.N. Conference on Climate Change in Poland (COP24). It was an important meeting that all forward thinking people should have been able to follow or participate in (either in person or digitally),because the topic concerns us all as well as our children and their children. I was fortunate to be part of the HEAL delegation, and to be an active participant in both the conference itself as well as the side events aligned to it.

Negotiators from 196 countries and the European Union worked for two weeks on the Katowice Climate Package, implementing the Paris Agreement. The presence of many heads of state, government and almost 100 Ministers of the Environment and of Foreign Affairs from all over the world made it a unique occurrence. Thanks to the consensus, which has been agreed on by the Parties because of their commitment, Katowice has become, after Kyoto and Paris, another milestone on the way towards a sustainable global climate policy.

The many meetings during the event broadened my understanding about the interplay between pollution, climate, health and sustainability.

The Dec. 2-14 conference began this year with a major scientific report projecting the world on pace to reach dangerous warming levels as early as 2030 — less than a dozen years away. The report was extensively commented by Dr. Diarmid Campbell-Lendrum from the WHO.

At the end of the first week, New Zealand issued a defence policy statement that labelled climate change its most significant security threat.

During the meeting I had ample opportunities for meetings that included discussions with colleagues like Prof. Tadeusz Zielonka – a fellow pulmonologist from the Polish Respiratory Society and fellow member of the HEAL delegation, who is deeply engaged in air pollution research and activities within Poland. We pledged to continue post COP24 in research projects between our respective organisations.

Listening to and meeting colleagues like Prof. Wiesław Banyś from ProSilezia (in the same room where his portrait adorns the lecture hall wall) broadened horizons and enabled networking, which will bear fruit in the coming months

Slowly but surely, the world seems to be waking into the new reality with the need for a sustainable future.

Fantastic talks also happened on COP24 side events, two of which deserve special mentions. The HEAL “Climate change and health – which role for the Polish health sector” event and the Global Climate and Health Alliance – “Climate and Health Summit 2018” – on December 8-th at the University of Silezia.

The GCHA Health Summit was chaired by Jeni Miller – Executive Director of the GCHA

Together with Jeni Miller of the GCHA

Vijoleta Gordeljevic Health and Climate Change Coordinator with HEAL and Prof. Susana Mónica Marinho Paixão from the University of Coimbra, and president-elect of IFEH were also impactful presenters and participants at the event.


The Bulgarian contribution to the above event was streamed live off of our FB page

And a brief summation after this synopsis on our participation in COP24…

Our society seems hell-bent on destroying its tomorrow by holding on to its yesterday. In this situation, the principal groups these days that seem to be contributing more effectively on the topic of climate change are religious leaders, spiritual teachers and more philosophic individuals who know that nothing much can happen to the world around us until something happens within us that is beyond money and power, that strives to attain global harmony and world peace. I saw many like this in Katowice this year.

And finally… a safe landing back home 🙂




Statement on the health cost of air-pollution

Today we submitted our Statement on the health costs of air-pollution to our  МОEW

We want to be understood correctly. We do not interfere or meddle in the economy, nor energy or politics. Our expertise is in health and health protection/disease prevention. Our statement aims to focus attention on the health consequences of activities generating air pollution. The health consequences need to be included in the equation, when calculating the true cost and economic viability. The reason for this we feel is self-evident. There is no working economy without healthy people.

We would like to extend our gratitude to all our partners, collaborators and like-minded supporters, as well to our well-meaning critics, who contribute to enhancing the health aspects of air-pollution to social awareness. We feel this is vital for solving this problem effectively.

Air pollution and tuberculosis

A little researched topic on the association of tuberculosis incidence and exposure to air pollution was recently published as an article in Nature.

The authors investigated the associations of ambient air pollutants (particulate matter with aerodynamic diameter <2.5 μm (PM2.5), sulfur dioxide (SO2),nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), and carbon monoxide (CO)) in relation to the risk of pulmonary TB in a cohort of Chinese TB patient in Jinan city from 2011 to 2015. A total of 9344 newly diagnosed pulmonary TB cases were included. Four different air pollution exposure windows (3, 6, 9, and 12 months) before TB diagnoses were calculated from the daily concentration of air pollution. In categorical analysis, the authors observed statistically significant overall associations between pulmonary TB risk and PM2.5 (3 month exposure window: RR = 1.228, 95%CI: 1.091–1.381) as well as CO (3 month exposure window: RR = 1.169, 95%CI: 1.028–1.329; 9 month exposure window: RR = 1.442, 95%CI: 1.028–2.024) exposures. Moreover, subgroup analyses suggested that most of the air pollutants (PM2.5, SO2, O3, and CO) were significantly associated with increased risk of TB among the males, the females, the <60 years, and the smear negative cases. The dominant statistically significant associations were detected at 3-month exposure window of air pollution before the diagnosis of TB. The suggestive evidence is that the 3 month air pollution exposure window was associated with increased TB risk and warrants further investigation.

Wood or coal cooking is associated with a risk of lung disease and death

Burning wood or coal for cooking is associated with an increased risk of hospitalization or death from respiratory illness, according to a new study conducted in China and published online in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

Researchers from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences report that hospitalizations or deaths of chronic and acute respiratory illnesses were 36% in those who used wood or coal for cooking, instead of those who used electricity or gas.

Researchers also report that the longer people use solid fuels, the greater the risk of hospitalization or death from respiratory disease than those who cooked with gas or electricity. Those who use wood or coal for 40 years or longer have a 54% higher risk of hospitalization or death from respiratory illnesses, while those switching from solid fuels to clean burning fuels reduce their risk to only 14% higher than those who have never been burned on wood or coal.

Confused in the haze…


The authors of a new study investigate whether long-term exposure to air pollution worsens human capital, causing dementia. They associate Medicare 15-year dossiers for 6.9 million adults over 65 years of age with EPA’s air quality monitoring network and track the development of individual health, dementia, financial decisions, and cumulative exposure to air pollution by fine dust particles. The authors show that increasing the mean decade exposure by 1 microgram per cubic meter (9.1% of the US mean) increases the probability of dementia diagnosis by 1.3 percentage points (6.7% of the mean). This conclusion is in line with the hypotheses from the medical literature. They conclude that regulating air pollution has greater benefits than has been known so far, partly because dementia has prevented proper financial decisions being made. They estimate that damage associated with dementia by air pollution by EPA exceeds $ 150 billion. The authors also find that the effect of PM2.5 on dementia continues to exceed the current regulatory thresholds.

Breast cancer also linked to air-pollution

Air pollution is classified as a human carcinogen, largely based on epidemiological studies of lung cancer. More recent studies have shown that exposure to atmospheric air pollution also increases the risk of breast cancer.

In a study of 89,247 women enrolled in the Canadian National Breast Cancer Survey, the authors found that the exposure to fine particulate air pollution is related to increased risk for breast cancer in Canadian women

The authors comment: “Our results support the hypothesis that exposure to low concentrations of PM2.5 increases the risk for pre-menopausal breast cancer.”

Comment from the people sharing this content: Please note that levels of PM in Canada are significantly lower than those found in our geography.

1 in 5 baby deaths is because of pollution

The authors of this new study combine household survey-based information on the location and timing of nearly 1 million births across sub-Saharan Africa with satellite-based estimates of exposure to ambient respirable particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 μm (PM2.5) to estimate the impact of air quality on mortality rates among infants in Africa. They find that a 10 μg per cubic meter increase in PM2.5 concentration is associated with a 9% (95% confidence interval, 4–14%) rise in infant mortality across the data-set. This effect has not declined over the last 15 years and does not diminish with higher levels of household wealth. The author’s estimates suggest that PM2.5 concentrations above minimum exposure levels were responsible for 22% (95% confidence interval, 9–35%) of infant deaths in the thirty study-countries and led to 449,000 (95% confidence interval, 194,000–709,000) additional deaths of infants in 2015, an estimate that is more than three times higher than existing estimates that attribute death of infants to poor air quality for these countries

Dirty air sends us to a hospital

Researchers from Dundee University published results in the ERJ, with which they show a clear link between air pollution and hospitalisations, as well as emergency visits to GPs.

Professor Chalmers claimed that the data showed that the impact of air pollution was worst in the summer months, where hotter and less windy days raised the levels of air pollution.

It is also when people are outside more and are being exposed to pollution, the researchers suggested, and a time when doctor visits were more frequent.

Professor Chalmers added: “Our datasuggests that a failure to tackle air pollution is having a major impact on the health of people with lung conditions and potentially the wider Tayside population. The patients we looked at, who all suffer from lung conditions, are to my mind the canary in the coalmine on this issue – they are the first and most seriously affected by air pollution but it can affect us all.”

Ian Jarrold, Head of Research at the British Lung Foundation, said that the research showed that the additional costs faced by the NHS due to exposure to air pollution ‘can no longer be ignored’.

Happy 4-th of July?

There will be more than 16,000 fireworks in the United States during the fourth of July celebration – enough to register a dramatic (albeit temporary) effect on air quality.

In its publication, the citylab website explains how all these rockets and explosions emit considerable amounts of “fine particulate matter”, microscopic particles capable of penetrating deep into the lungs and blood.

Another publication reveals how some states will fight the problem. By contrast, pollution levels in the US are generally half of the average in Bulgaria, but even for one-time rises – at the time of their national holiday, they are looking for cleaner alternatives.

Air pollution associated with acute respiratory distress

ARDS is a rapidly progressive disease that occurs in critically ill patients. The disease’s most serious complication is that fluid leaks into the lungs making breathing difficult or impossible. ARDS develops in patients with predisposing conditions such as sepsis, pneumonia, traumatic injury, and aspiration. The elderly population is at particularly high risk of developing ARDS and the ARDS mortality rate for elderly patients has been reported to be around 69 percent to 80 percent.

Тhe study’s senior author, stated that: “Our findings are unique in showing that the adverse health effects of air pollution on our senior citizens now include acute respiratory failure and that an increase in hospitalization for ARDS in seniors occurs at the current U.S. air pollution standards. These results add to the growing body of literature on various adverse health effects at current standards that demonstrate a need to lower our exposure limits.”