14 August 2014
Air pollution from road traffic can raise blood pressure (copy 1)
High blood pressure is linked to long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution, new research suggests.
After accounting for lifestyle factors, socioeconomic status and pre-existing health conditions, researchers found that a rise in traffic emissions of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) corresponded to a rise in blood pressure of exposed individuals.
The study examined 3 700 people aged 35 to 83 years old in Girona, Spain, taking a series of blood pressure readings from each participant. Using data from a network of air pollution sensors, the researchers created a model for nitrogen dioxide levels in Girona and estimated the NO2 levels outside each participant’s home address, as an indicator for overall traffic pollution exposure. They also looked at how other factors, such as traffic noise, affected people’s blood pressure.
Among individuals in the study who did not take medication for blood pressure, there was a statistically significant rise in systolic blood pressure of 1.34 mm Hg for each 10 micrograms per cubic metre increase in annual average NO2, after adjusting for exposure to traffic noise.
The same association was found across the entire group, including both those that did and did not take medication, although it was weaker.
For more information, see the DG Environment ‘Science for Environment Policy’ July newsletter (opens pdf).
13 August 2014
Madrid brings electric cars into police fleet (copy 1)
The municipal police force in Madrid has introduced two electric cars into its environmental unit as part of the city’s wider plans to clean up its vehicle fleet
The acquisition of the vehicles is the result of a one-year contract signed by Madrid and Renault. The agreement means that the French car-maker will replace over a third of the police force’s two- and four-wheel vehicles (389 out of 1 000) with modern and cleaner models.
The Mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella, said that this public-private partnership will bring economic and environmental benefits for the city. ‘The sole cost to the municipality is the cost of running the vehicles,’ Botella said. ‘The energy required to fuel these vehicles amounts to around € 700 a year, tax included.’
The Mayor, who has committed to cleaning up Madrid's air, says that the main benefit is to the environment as they are zero-emission vehicles. ‘This is one of the commitments that this government team has been working hard on over the past years, resulting in a 30 per cent reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions since 2004, and 22 per cent since 2011,’ she added.
For more information, visit Ecoticias.com
12 August 2014
Europe’s first driverless bus trial begins in Sardinia (copy 1)
Two automated driverless vehicles have begun transporting passengers in Sardinia as part of tests co-funded by the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme .
The demonstrations are led by the City Mobil 2 project, which is testing automated vehicles in real-life urban environments. The two driverless buses, which can take up to 12 passengers each, are being piloted on a busy pedestrianised seafront promenade in Oristano. The route is about 1.3 km long and has seven stops.
The buses are guided by a differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) and have three levels of safety: two laser scanners on the front that detect obstacles within 30 m; ultra-sound detectors on the front and the sides that recognise obstacles even if not in the bus’s direct trajectory; and a mechanical device that forces a stop in an emergency.
Passengers are allowed to travel for free but must register first; minors are allowed on board, but only if the registration is signed by an adult. The demo, which finishes on 30 August, is organised in partnership with the Municipality of Oristano, the Regional public transport operator ARST, and transport planning consultancy Company MLAb.
For more information, visit the City Mobil 2 project website.