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The air quality in most cities is bad news for public health.

The air quality in most cities is bad news for public health.

The World Health Organization says air pollution in many of the world’s cities is breaching its guidelines.

Its survey of 1,600 cities in 91 countries revealed that nearly 90% of people in urban centres breathe air that fails to meet levels deemed safe.

The WHO says that about half of the world’s urban population is exposed to pollution at least 2.5 times higher than it recommends.

Air quality was poorest in Asia, followed by South America and Africa.

“Too many urban centres today are so enveloped in dirty air that their skylines are invisible,” said Dr Flavia Bustreo, the WHO’s assistant director-general for family, children and women’s health.

“Not surprisingly, this air is dangerous to breathe.”

The WHO currently sets safe levels of air quality based on the concentration of polluting particles called particulate matter (PM) found in the air.

It recommends that levels of fine particles called PM2.5 should not be more than 10 micrograms per cubic metre on average over a year, and slightly larger pollutants, called PM10, should not reach more than 20 micrograms per cubic metre on average.

But the Urban Air Quality database showed that many areas were breaching these levels.

Some cities in Asia showed extremely high levels of pollution. Peshawar in Pakistan registered a PM10 level of 540 micrograms per cubic metre over a period of two months in 2010, while Delhi in India had an average PM2.5 of 153 micrograms per cubic metre in the same year.

Cities in South America, including Rio De Janeiro in Brazil, also fared badly.

But the WHO says it is still lacking data, especially from cities in Africa, where poor air quality is a growing concern.

The most recent figures suggest that seven million people around the world died as a result of air pollution in 2012. It is estimated that 3.7 million of these deaths were from outdoor air pollution.

The WHO calls it the world’s single largest environmental health risk, and links poor air quality to heart disease, respiratory problems and cancer.

“We cannot buy clean air in a bottle, but cities can adopt measures that will clean the air and save the lives of their people,” said Dr Carlos Dora from the WHO.

Source: BBC

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Other risks include fumes from nail polishes and gels

Nail salons often use nail dryers to harden gel manicures.

Nail salons often use nail dryers to harden gel manicures.

Nail salon dryers, which use ultraviolet light to speed the drying and hardening of nail polishes and gels, emit varying levels of radiation that can lead to risky skin damage in as few as eight visits to the manicurist, a new study shows.

The nail dryers emit primarily UVA light — the same kind of ultraviolet light used in tanning beds — and are used to dry nail polish or to harden a gel manicure. Gel manicures are popular because they create long-lasting, shiny nails through a chemical gel that is painted on the nail in layers and cured under UV light after every coating.

Case reports of two women who developed squamous cell skin cancers on their hands have suggested an association between cancer and the UV nail light devices, but most doctors agree the risk is low.

In the new study, researchers from Georgia Regents University in Augusta conducted a random sampling of 17 different UV nail lamps found in salons to determine how much ultraviolet radiation is being emitted when clients dry their nails under the lights.

The study, published as a research letter this week in the journal JAMA Dermatology, found wide variation in the dose of UVA light emitted during eight minutes of nail drying or hardening. The dose, measured in joules per centimeter squared, ranged from less than one to eight.

“There is a vast range in the amount of light coming out of these devices,” said Dr. Lyndsay R. Shipp, the study’s lead author and a postgraduate resident at the university’s Medical College of Georgia. The amount of UV exposure ranged from “barely” to “significant,” she said.

DNA damage that can lead to skin cancer is known to occur around 60 joules per centimeter squared, and none of the nail lamps came close to that number. However, the researchers estimated that for most of the lamps tested, eight to 14 visits over 24 to 42 months would reach the threshold for DNA damage to the skin.

The study authors noted that the “risk from multiple manicure visits remains untested,” but the study suggested that “even with numerous exposures, the risk for carcinogenesis remains small.”

Dr. Shipp said, “There is a theoretical risk, but it’s very low.”

Lamps with higher-wattage bulbs emitted the highest levels of UV radiation, but it would not be easy for a salon client to check the wattage before using a machine. Dr. Shipp said she sometimes uses the nail lamps and will continue to do so.

“I do use them every couple of months,’’ she said, noting that “you can get that amount of exposure when driving down the road in your car.”

Clients who are concerned about the risk but want to continue getting gel manicures, which require UV light, have a few options. They can skip the lotion-and-massage portion of the manicure and instead coat their hands with sunscreen before having gel nails applied.

Another option is to wear UV-protective gloves with the fingertips cut off so only the nails are exposed to the light. Users of regular nail polish can try fans or air-drying if they want to avoid the devices.

Source: NY Times

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