July 2nd, 2009
Environmental health researchers from UCLA, the University of Southern California and the California Air Resources Board have found that during the hours before sunrise, freeway air pollution extends much further than previously thought.
Air pollutants from Interstate 10 in Santa Monica extend as far as 2,500 meters — more than 1.5 miles — downwind, based on recent measurements from a research team headed by Dr. Arthur Winer, a professor of environmental health sciences at the UCLA School of Public Health. This distance is 10 times greater than previously measured daytime pollutant impacts from roadways and has significant exposure implications, since most people are in their homes during the hours before sunrise and outdoor pollutants penetrate into indoor environments. (more…)
Popularity: 4% [?]
June 13th, 2009
“You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” — Rahm Emanuel
Given our current economic and environmental challenges it might be difficult to appreciate all of the hidden opportunities that are present, but identify and capitalize on them we should.
One such opportunity is to make use of more time and less money by making a critical and financially savvy investment—in your health. While the stock and real estate markets are as tempestuous as Alec Baldwin, your health is one investment that offers considerable dividends—and it’s probably greener than any other investment you can make.
Even if you have insurance (or have insurance at the moment), even the best plan doesn’t pay for everything. And chronic illnesses that are often lifestyle-related such as diabetes or high blood pressure demand out of pocket expenditures that can amount to tens of thousands of dollars.
According to the American Heart Association, around 250,000 deaths annually in the U.S. are due to a lack of regular physical activity. And if death doesn’t scare you, perhaps the cost of being unhealthy or becoming chronically ill does. For example, 2002 per capita medical costs totaled $13,243 for people with diabetes. (http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/26/3/917.full)
Additional Health Affairs studies showed that between 1987 and 2002, “…a person with hypertension added $1,600 to annual spending and diabetes added $3,600. In patients with coronary heart disease, hypertension added an additional $1,900 and diabetes added $3,300.” And this doesn’t even count the cost in loss productivity and wages, which can also be considerable. Being sick can cost more annually than a fabulous African safari, and I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be seeing galloping giraffes on the savanna than not-so-garrulous nurses at my bedside pricking me with needles.
Increasing your level of fitness can yield considerable returns, whether you embark on an ambitious fitness plan or simply start walking more and driving less. If you’re thinking that you don’t have the money to join a health club, how about walking or riding a bike? The incidence of heart disease and other ailments is much lower in car-free Venice. Experts believe it’s no mere coincidence that residents of this ancient, watery city can’t drive their cars to dinner or the grocery store. They’ve got to walk up and down stairs and bridges to go anywhere.
Via small steps (pardon the pun), you can gradually alter your lifestyle, improve your fitness and reduce your carbon imprint. Taking the stairs at the office instead of the elevator, walking instead of driving to conduct errands, using a backpack and biking when doing light grocery shopping or biking to work don’t represent major lifestyle changes but can have an eventual positive affect in all of these areas.
In my family, a post-dinner stroll around the neighborhood is a long-standing tradition. Particularly after a holiday meal, such a jaunt helps digest a meal, lower blood pressure, and burn calories. And done regularly, a walk can offer a sort of therapy that CNN or the slickest flat screen TV can’t begin to offer.
Of course, there’s a green angle to taking care of yourself. Hospitals are notorious energy hogs, and medical waste is sometimes toxic and nearly always hazardous. In addition, all of those medicines we ingest are turning up in our lakes, rivers, oceans and water supplies, creating five-legged frogs and tainted drinking water.
Finally, improving our nutrition is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Eating less meat which is often expensive, anyway, and maybe even growing some of our own herbs and vegetables offer a chance to eat better, get a little exercise, grow something locally and reduce our carbon output by purchasing fewer foods that have to travel a great distance.
Scads of studies show that people that avoid becoming overweight and engage in regular exercise have fewer health issues later in life. While investing in gold, the stock market or bonds comes with risk and uncertainty, investing in your health and fitness comes with little risk and great reward. So this recession, look for a silver lining and consider making an investment which is likely to have long term financial and ecological payoffs—improving your health.
Popularity: 2% [?]