Environmental Stressors

Citizens wearing gas masks

Citizens wearing gas masks

Environmental stressors (Asian dust, air pollution, marine pollution and noise) as contributors to premature mortality on a global scale

CURRENT STATUS

Asia’s environmental crisis

Currently, 17 megacities in Asia rank among the top 30 cities in terms of premature cardiovascular mortality and account for 7% of the global burden of disease attributable to outdoor air pollution alone. Also, the fine dust concentration level is higher in Seoul than in many other major cities around the world: PM10 concentration is 1.4 times, 2.2 times, 2.4 times and 2.8 times higher than in Los Angeles, Paris, London and Tokyo, respectively; PM2.5 concentration 1.9 times, 2.1 times and 2.2 times higher than in Tokyo, London and Los Angeles, respectively. Hardly a day has gone by in recent months without alerts for fine air concentrations. In January 2018 alone, a total of 36 alerts were issued nationwide for PM10. The number of alerts issued warning of ultra-fine dust (PM2.5) totaled 81 in the same month, a 68.8 percent increase year-on-year. Furthermore, fine dust concentrations exceeding the Korean daily average air quality standard have been frequently reported lately.

Need for the project

Ground breaking nature and potential impact of the research project

In our Einstein Project, we want to create an institutional structure in which policy advocacies are made so that Asian politicians and government officials could be educated in energy-environmental issues. Environmental Protection, Energy Policy and Poverty Reduction should not be treated separately but in an integrated manner. Global environmental problems can be solved ONLY with concerted strong Governmental interventions. Therefore, it is important to create a Research and Policy Advocacy Center in East Asia which is the greatest source of Air Pollution right now, having the greatest concentration of industrial manufacturing factories in the world. Only when the air pollution issues of East Asia are solved, can the rest of the world could be relieved from the looming environment disaster coming from East Asia. Note that the greatest number of densely polluted industrial cities are all located in the small areas of Northeast Asia, surrounding the Yellow Sea between Korean peninsula and the East Coast of China, stretching from Manchurian Yodong peninsula down to Peking, Tenchin, Chingdao, Shanghai, Shinzen, Hong Kong as well as Inchon, Seoul, etc., the epicenters of fine dust air pollution for the rest of the world. A research Center in East Asia to monitor and do environmental policy advocacy is an urgent necessity. As the 1 st research project, the East Asian Air quality study would be the most timely and necessary one today.

Objectives

There are two main objectives of the PROJECT.

First, to identify the mechanisms underlying the initiation, progression and the clinical consequences of traffic noise, an emerging cardiovascular risk factor, and additive effects with air pollution. Second, to investigate policy strategies to tackle Northeast Asia’s growing environmental crisis.

To reach the aim of the project, we propose the following work plan:

1. To identify mechanisms behind noise-induced vascular and cerebral damage

2. To investigate potential synergistic effects of traffic noise and particulate matter

3. To reveal in translational experimental studies the effects of noise on healthy subjects

4. To elucidate the impact of noise and/or ambient air pollution on the development of subclinical cardiovascular disease and asymptomatic organ damage in the population of the Korean Peninsula and China.

5. To investigate policy strategies to counter environmental threats, including Asian dust resulting from

desertification, air pollution, and marine pollution in adjoining sea areas.

6. To investigate the interrelations of Environmental Protection, Energy Policy and Poverty Reduction