The more you look the more you see and, in the case of air pollution, it is bad news all the way. The World Health Organisation has long presented analysis of how air pollution affects health. Back in 2012 it showed that deaths from nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide air pollution spanned mainly stroke, then ischaemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer then at a smaller share, acute lower respiratory infections in children. At that time there were seven million deaths yearly in the world from air pollution and rising as coal fired power stations and internal combustion engine vehicles increased in number. Sadly, it is turning out to be worse because there are more sources of deaths and illness from air pollution and more forms of killer being identified all the time. For example, medical experts have additionally linked these toxic fumes to asthma and dementia.
Add sulfur dioxide
The shipping industry is owning up to killing by emitting sulfur dioxide as well and nitrogen oxides, particulates and so on but only doing some limp changes to fuels and engines to reduce it a bit. A large ship emits the equivalent of 30,000 cars in carbon dioxide causing global warming and up to 100,000 cars worth of lethal acid gases and particulates.
Add breast cancer?
For a study reported in 2017, researchers examined the mammogram scans of 279,967 women and found that for every one unit increase in the fine particles typically emitted by diesel engines - known as PM2.5 - a woman's chance of having dense breasts, correlating with breast cancer risk, went up 4 per cent. The results of this latest study, published in the journal Breast Cancer Research, found that women with high breast density were 19 per cent more likely to live in areas with high levels of fine particle air pollution, which is a particular problem in the emissions of diesel cars.
Commenting on the findings lead researcher Dr Lusine Yaghjyan said: "Our findings suggest that previously reported geographic variation in breast density could, in part, be explained by different air pollution patterns in urban and rural areas."
The researchers added that since breast density is a well-established and strong breast cancer risk factor, "future studies are warranted to determine if their observations are causal, which if confirmed may have implications for risk prevention".
However, Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at the charity Breast Cancer Now, cautioned: "This is a thought-provoking finding, however the direct association between air pollutants and breast cancer risk remains unclear."
The UK as an example
It is estimated that toxic fumes contribute to the deaths of 40,000 people in the UK every year. Based on the results of this latest study it looks like toxic air pollution could now also be linked to approximately 11,400 breast cancer deaths recorded annually. The UK is already notorious for breaching legal limits of air toxins, with 37 cities across Britain persistently falling outside international Air Quality Standards. Health charities, medical experts and environmental groups warned earlier this year that Britain is facing a major health emergency unless diesel cars are taken off the roads.
Professor John Middleton, President of the UK Faculty of Public Health, said in February: "It is time for diesel to be recognised as the health emergency that it is."
For the first time, air pollution in the UK is now primarily caused by road vehicles. Legal limits for the year were exceeded in the first four days of 2017. London schools are being built where the children are forced to suck in four times the approved amount of acid gas.
Because they have old intensively-used diesel engines, London taxis are a significant contributor to deaths now risen to 9500 a year in London with many more lung injuries from air pollution. Pollution is increasing with cruising Uber cars, delivery trucks for internet shopping and the like. You place the order on the web but the execution is ugly unless far firmer action is taken to make vehicles zero pollution. A distant date is set for new taxis to be zero emission but that will only very slowly reduce pollution from the total fleet. Operator Addison Lee has recently pointed out that ubiquitous fast charging stations are essential and more affordable pure electric vehicles that actually perform to specification will help but it sees no significant progress in any of these respects.
A pure electric taxi has just entered production in the UK and China could supply many suitable pure electric taxis as it has over ten thousand already in use and plans for 100,000. There is one BYD zero emission pure electric double decker bus and a few single decker ones vs tens of thousands in China.
Pleasingly, several parts of the world are taking more muscular action with Norway having highest adoption percentage of pure electric zero emission vehicles largely powered by tougher laws and better subsidies. Tesla has overtaken Ford in market valuation in 2017 despite making about one twentieth of the number of vehicles because all its vehicles are zero emission, nippy and popular. Imminent delivery of its orderbook of around 400,000 of its Tesla 3 more affordable e-car is sending shivers down the spine of the vehicle industry. In a small echo of the Tesla approach, Hyundai has just announced its entry into bus making with exclusively pure electric zero-emission models.
More to come
Tesla plans solar bodywork for all cars and others are improving pure electric vehicles radically, such as intermittent catenary charging of pure electric trucks being trialled in Germany. This uses smaller batteries, a good thing since they can be toxic, flammable, short-lived and the largest cost element. Then there is the Solarship alternative to a truck in Canada that uses sunshine alone to carry the same 35 tonne loads in a straight line with an autonomous inflated wing, getting there first, lowering it precisely at destination and never needing any fuel at all, thus saving all those expensive charging stations.
Now it is time for conferences, events and academia to concentrate less on hybrid vehicles and show leadership in taking society to more affordable, more convenient forms of pure electric vehicle. IDTechEx is the leader here with its unusually futuristic Electric Vehicles: Everything is Changing conference at IDTechEx Show! with its 200 exhibitors, 3000 serious paying delegates, nine parallel conferences and, on the day before and day after, 25 optional masterclasses. For example, there are six energy independent electric vehicle (EIV) presentations from aircraft to cars and boats. Toyota talks on "Mobility in a Changing World", Adaptive City Mobility reveals an "Emission Free Competitive eMobility System for Cities" and Daimler and many hot new startups will give the future roadmap for all forms. There are even presentations on energy independent pizza vans, family cars, racing cars, boats and aircraft in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy and the UK. Learn why buses are jumping straight to pure electric and hear Ballard reveal the latest on fuel cell buses with zero emissions. Key enabling technologies such as 3D printing, printed electronics, sensors, energy harvesting, structural electronics, energy storage and e-textiles are also covered extensively at this event, the only one to include so much and track what comes next rather than hear some dirge from someone's current catalog.
Not content with that, IDTechEx is staging the world's first event dedicated solely to energy independent EIVs from perpetual solar planes to electric boats and even ships generating all or most of their electricity from wind and/or solar. It will be at the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands that is famed for solar boats and cars and even drones that generate, rather than use, electricity to power ships. The date is September 27-28 with masterclasses before and after and a small exhibition. Learn how injuries from air pollution can be reduced far faster than is commonly realised and be part of accelerated progress to a much healthier, quieter, and more affordable world.
Learn more at the next leading event on the topic: Electric Vehicles: Everything is Changing. Europe 2017 on 10 - 11 May 2017 in Berlin, Germany hosted by IDTechEx.