Effects of naturally-occurring acid fog on inflammatory mediators in airway and pulmonary functions in asthmatic patients.
Floating fog occurs every summer in Kushiro City in Japan, and the annual average of fog water pH in the past 4 years has been under 5.0. We previously reported that epidemiologically fog was the most important positive factor contributing to increased hospital visits of asthmatic patients compared with other meteorological values and air pollutants. This study aimed to investigate the mechanism of the effects of naturally-occurring acid fog on asthmatic patients. We compared pulmonary functions and inflammatory mediators in induced sputum between the foggy (July 1995) and the non-foggy (May 1996) season, and assessed airway responsiveness to hypo-osmolar aerosol. Forty-four out of 118 asthmatic patients of Kushiro City residents participated, pulmonary function tests were completed in 36 patients, and sputum data were available in 26 patients in both seasons. Percent forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV1) was significantly (P< 0.05) decreased, and % peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) had a trend to decrease in the foggy season more than in the non-foggy, and sputum eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) and interleukin (IL)-8 were higher in the foggy season but not significantly. A moderate inverse correlation was revealed between sputum ECP and %PEFR in the foggy season (r= -0.55, P<0.005). Subjects were divided into two groups according to the best PEFR; one had >10% lower PEFR levels in the foggy season than in the non-foggy season (Group A, n = 7), the remainder did not (Group B, n = 19). In group A, sputum ECP was significantly increased (P< 0.01) in the foggy season, but there were no changes in IL-8 and prostaglandin D2. Ultrasonic nebulized distilled water provocation test revealed no differences between group A and B. These results suggested that eosinophilic inflammation rather than hypo-osmolar effect of fog might contribute to respiratory deterioration by inhalation of naturally-occurring acid fog. (+info
Evaluation of ionic pollutants of acid fog and rain using a factor analysis and back trajectories.
Fog and rain water samples were collected at the same time in the Akita Hachimantai mountain range in northern Japan from June to September in 1998 and 1999. The various ion concentrations in these samples were analyzed, and the fog droplet sizes were measured for each fog event. As the fog droplet size increased, the ion concentration decreased. The slope of log-log plots of the concentration versus the droplet size differed with the kind of ion. In order to characterize the air pollutant, moreover, these data were quantitatively analyzed by an oblique rotational factor analysis. We found that three factors were extracted as the air pollutant source: (NH4)2SO4, acids (HNO3 + H2SO4) and sea-salt. Combining the factor analysis with the 72 h back-trajectory at 850 hPa level, we found that the contribution of each factor varied with the transport pattern of air masses. (+info
Adverse effects of acid rain on the distribution of the Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina in North America.
Research into population declines of North American bird species has mainly focused on the fragmentation of habitat on the breeding or wintering grounds [Robinson, S. K., Thompson, F. R., Donovan, T. M., Whitehead, D. R. & Faaborg, J. (1995) Science 267, 1987-1990]. In contrast, research into declines of European species has mainly focused on intensification of agriculture [Donald, P. F., Green, R. E. & Heath, M. F. (2001) Proc. R. Soc. London Ser. B 268, 25-29] and the role played by the atmospheric deposition of pollutants, in particular, acid rain [Graveland, J. (1998) Environ. Rev. 6, 41-54]. However, despite widespread unexplained declines of bird populations in regions of heavy wet acid ion deposition [Sauer, J. R., Hines, J. E. & Fallon, J. (2001) The North American Breeding Bird Survey Results and Analysis 1966-2000 (Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD)], no North American studies have presented evidence linking such widespread terrestrial bird declines to acid rain. To address the question of the role played by acid rain in population declines of eastern North American songbird species, we combine data from several sources. We use a multiple logistic regression model to test for adverse effects of acid rain on the Wood Thrush, while controlling for regional abundance, landscape-level habitat fragmentation, elevation, soil pH, and vegetation. We show a strong, highly significant, negative effect of acid rain on the predicted probability of breeding by this species, and interactions with elevation, low pH soils, and habitat fragmentation that worsen these negative effects. Our results suggest an important role for acid rain in recent declines of some birds breeding in the eastern United States, particularly in high elevation zones with low pH soils, and show the need to consider other large-scale influences, in addition to habitat fragmentation, when addressing bird population declines. (+info
Whither acid rain?
Acid rain, the environmental cause celebre of the 1980s seems to have vanished from popular conscience. By contrast, scientific research, despite funding difficulties, has continued to produce hundreds of research papers each year. Studies of acid rain taught much about precipitation chemistry, the behaviour of snow packs, long-range transport of pollutants and new issues in the biology of fish and forested ecosystems. There is now evidence of a shift away from research in precipitation and sulfur chemistry, but an impressive theoretical base remains as a legacy. (+info
Nitrogen deposition in the greater Tehran metropolitan area.
An investigation of air pollution in the Tehran metropolitan area between 1992-2000 indicated that there are significant amounts of nitrate ion (NO3-), over 30 kg/ha/year, deposited as wet deposition, compared to 13 kg/ha/year in the Chitgar Parkland near the Tehran metropolitan area. The amount of NO3- in warm seasons is twofold that of cold seasons, and there was a significant difference between cold and warm seasons. Annual wet deposition of ammonia (NH3) was 10 kg/ha/year in the Chitgar Parkland. (+info
To trade or not to trade? Criteria for applying cap and trade.
The use of emissions trading (cap and trade) is gaining worldwide recognition as an extremely effective policy tool. The U.S. Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) Emissions Trading Program has achieved an unprecedented level of environmental protection in a cost-effective manner. The successful results of the program have led domestic and foreign governments to consider the application of cap and trade to address other air quality issues. Certain analyses are particularly important in determining whether or not cap and trade is an appropriate policy tool. This paper offers a set of questions that can be used as criteria for determining whether or not cap and trade is the preferred policy approach to an environmental problem. (+info
Anthropogenic effects on forest ecosystems at various spatio-temporal scales.
The focus in this review of long-term effects on forest ecosystems is on human impact. As a classification of this differentiated and complex matter, three domains of long-term effects with different scales in space and time are distinguished: Exploitation and conversion history of forests in areas of extended human settlement, Long-range air pollution and acid deposition in industrialized regions, Current global loss of forests and soil degradation. There is an evident link between the first and the third point in the list. Cultivation of primary forestland--with its tremendous effects on land cover--took place in Europe many centuries ago and continued for centuries. Deforestation today is a phenomenon predominantly observed in the developing countries, yet it threatens biotic and soil resources on a global scale. Acidification of forest soils caused by long-range air pollution from anthropogenic emission sources is a regional to continental problem in industrialized parts of the world. As a result of emission reduction legislation, atmospheric acid deposition is currently on the retreat in the richer industrialized regions (e.g., Europe, U.S., Japan); however, because many other regions of the world are at present rapidly developing their polluting industries (e.g., China and India), "acid rain" will most probably remain a serious ecological problem on regional scales. It is believed to have caused considerable destabilization of forest ecosystems, adding to the strong structural and biogeochemical impacts resulting from exploitation history. Deforestation and soil degradation cause the most pressing ecological problems for the time being, at least on the global scale. In many of those regions where loss of forests and soils is now high, it may be extremely difficult or impossible to restore forest ecosystems and soil productivity. Moreover, the driving forces, which are predominantly of a demographic and socioeconomic nature, do not yet seem to be lessening in strength. It can only be hoped that a wise policy of international cooperation and shared aims can cope with this problem in the future. (+info
An approach to balancing the positive and negative effects of elevated nitrogen oxides in the lower atmosphere on terrestrial plants.
Elevated NOx in the lower atmosphere has three major effects on terrestrial plants. On the one hand, it causes an increase in surface ozone concentration. This reduces plant growth rate. On the other hand, elevated NOx causes an increase in the flux of oxidized N compounds from the atmosphere to the land surface. This plays a dual role in the life of terrestrial plants. Additional N in soils stimulates plant growth (N-fertilization effect), whereas soil acidification may negatively affect plants. A simple empirical model for calculating the overall effect of anthropogenic increase in NOx level has been developed. The model is based on experimental "cause-response" data presented in world scientific literature. Calculations showed that at the large scale, among the above-mentioned changes, elevated O3 plays a major and negative role in plant life. Its negative effect on plants is partly compensated by N fertilization in unmanaged ecosystems. Such compensation appears to be negligible in agricultural lands. There are vast territories in Euro--Asia--for instance, a territory of Russia--in which acid atmospheric deposition has no significant effect on terrestrial plants. (+info