Californians With Long Commutes Are Inhaling Carcinogens, Study Finds
Californians with long commutes may be inhaling chemicals that put them at risk for cancer and birth defects, a new study has found.
Led by UC Riverside, a study published in Environment International found that up to 90 percent of the population with 30-minute commutes in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Santa Clara and Alameda counties have at least a 10 percent exceeded risk of cancer due to inhaling unhealthy levels of chemicals stitched into the fabric of their cars.
Long periods spent in cars expose commuters to unsustainable levels of two carcinogens known as benzene and formaldehyde, the study found. "These chemicals are very volatile, moving easily from plastics and textiles to the air that you breathe," David Volz, a UCR professor of environmental toxicology, told UCR.
While benzene and formaldehyde are listed under California's Proposition 65, which requires workplaces to post warnings of exposure to chemicals that could cause cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm, how they infiltrate private spaces, like the inside of someone's car, is less recognized and therefore less regulated, UCR reported.
The average commute time for Californians is 30 minutes, The Sacramento Bee reported. This time spent is expected to grow as cities become more crowded and expensive.
"Of course, there is a range of exposure that depends on how long you're in the car, and how much of the compounds your car is emitting," Aalekhya Reddam, a graduate student and lead author of the study, told UCR. Keeping windows down during a long commute could allow "some air flow," diluting "the concentration of these chemicals inside your car," Reddam added.
But chemicals inside their cars are not the only toxins harming Californians. Heavy pollution, caused by on-road sources, on average disproportionately harm African American and Latino Californians compared to white Californians, according to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists. This exposure comes with a heavy cost, causing lung and heart ailments, asthma and premature death.
In response, plans to reduce emissions and pollution from passenger vehicles are underway. In September, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order, requiring the end of sales of all new passenger vehicles to be zero-emission by 2035, according to a statement.
Yet while California is often celebrated for its climate policy, its high emissions from cars persist. "Passenger vehicles alone produce nearly a third of California's emissions, more than all of the electric plants, livestock, and oil refineries in the state put together," Grist reported.
But increases in emissions, from car tailpipes, for example, have less to do with the lack of environmental policies and more to do with urban-planning decisions. In Los Angeles, the city's layout creates sprawling neighborhoods, causing longer commutes, Reuters reported.
Long commutes are also a problem for Californians living in the Bay Area. "There's simply not enough housing to live in the Bay Area, and even housing units are very expensive," transportation researcher Giovanni Circella told ABC10. "So, a lot of lower-income workers cannot afford to live in San Francisco and they need to commute long distances."
As the state becomes more crowded and more expensive, highlighting how the transportation sector in California harms its citizens could inform policymakers and auto manufacturers to safeguard commuters from the risks coming from both inside and outside of their cars.
"There should be alternatives to these chemicals to achieve the same goals during vehicle manufacturing," Volz told UCR. "If so, these should be used."
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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