Weekly Bulletin – 2004, May 19

The Environmental Price of Creating Diversity: Connecting The Dots

Dear Prime Minister Martin and Fellow MP's:

Below is a May 14, Vancouver Sun article, “Toxins In The Air Feared As Peril To Unborn Children”. It makes several major points:

(1) Air toxins not only damage the lungs, but also trigger genetic mutations that are passed on to the next generation.

(2) The highest concentration of these toxins is in Canada's three highest immigration receiving areas: The Fraser Valley (Vancouver) and the Windsor-Quebec City corridor (Toronto and Montreal).

Once again last week, Canada's federal Liberal Party tried to paint Canada's Conservative Party as being opposed to immigration. The implied message is that nothing negative can or should be said about immigration.
The blunt truth is that immigration, particularly the mass immigration variety that Canada's federal Liberals refuse to acknowledge the existence of, has gross faults.

As many have sais, one of them is the concentration of mass immigration in three areas of Canada. Canada will always have some immigration, but it is deceitful in the extreme to confuse past cyclical immigration with current, ever-increasing mass immigration. It is also extremely deceitful to suggest that offloading several million people into Canada's three major urban centres has not had or will not continue to have very significant effects on the environmental quality of those areas.

The study concludes that technological solutions can be pursued, but that it would be preferable to stop the pollution at source. While recent mass immigration has not been the only factor in the creation of high particulate levels, it has been and will continue to be a major contributing factor. Going to the source of mass immigration and making dramatic cuts would go a long way towards reducing the air pollution problem. This means going to federal Liberal immigration policy and restoring sanity to this policy.

Best wishes,
Dan Murray,
Immigration Watch Canada

Toxins In The Air Feared As Peril To Unborn Children By Margaret Munro The Vancouver Sun, May 14, 2004

An ominous Canadian study has found that toxins polluting the air not only damage the lungs but can travel to the testicles and trigger genetic mutations that are passed to the next generation.

The findings, described as “startling” by environmental health authorities, are detailed in the journal “Science” …by Canadian scientists who studied mice breathing dirty air in Hamilton, Ontario.

Male mice that breathed the polluted air for 10 weeks passed on twice as many mutations to their offspring as mice that inhaled air stripped of the fine particles in air pollution, known as particulates. produced by Hamilton's vehicles and steel mills.

Lead researcher, James Quinn, an environmental biologist at McMaster University, says the findings likely also apply to wildlife and humans and add to “accumulating evidence” that fine particulate pollution not only harms the lungs of millions of people, but may also affect their unborn children and grandchildren.

The level of particulates that triggered the changes in mice are similar to levels in several polluted areas across Canada, including the Fraser Valley, and are common to many of the world's largest cities, says Quinn.
“This is not an isolated situation,” he says.

Environmental health specialist Dr. Jonathan Samet says the study findings are startling, but need to be interpreted with caution.
“It's a pretty remarkable observation”, says Samet, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University, who co-authored a commentary in “Science”
accompanying the McMaster report. “Here is something that is unexpected that really needs follow-up.”

“It's absolutely fascinating,” says Michael Brauer, an environmental health scientist at the University of B.C. He says the study provides the first evidence he has seen that air pollutants trigger mutations that can be passed on.

But Brauer, like Quinn and his colleagues, says the findings are not surprising given what is already known about the nasty nature of fine particulates, which can be laced with toxins and lodge deep in the lungs.
Studies have already linked some particulates to increased rates of heart disease, cancer, and respiratory ailments in humans, as well as low-birth weight babies.

Quinn says he would install a high-efficiency particulate filter, known as a HEPA filter, on his home if he lived close to a busy roadway frequented by transport trucks, which are a leading source of particulates.

“If I were in that position, I would have a HEPA filtration system in my house for sure,” says Quinn.

HEPA filters virtually eliminated the risk of genetic mutations described in the study, which followed four groups of mice.

One group of mice spent 10 weeks breathing dirty air near two steel mills and a busy six-lane highway close to Hamilton harbour. A second group was housed in the same garden shed but lived in a chamber equipped with a HEPA filter that removed 99.97% of the particulates from the air. Two control groups of mice breathed country air 30 kilometres away at a farm where they were kept in identical chambers–one with a HEPA filter and one without.

After nine weeks, the mice were bred and the scientists compared the rate of genetic mutation passed on to their offspring.

In the study, male mice breathing Hamilton's polluted air passed on twice as many mutations to their offspring as their counterparts breathing filtered or country air. The scientists traced the mutations to the sperm, which is produced as needed by male mice. No extra genetic mutations were passed on by female mice, whose eggs form before they are born and, in this case, before they started breathing air laced with the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAH's, and other fine particulates produced by the steel mills and automobiles.

The PAH levels at the industrial site, which is within two kilometres of a residential area, reached 171 times the level at the rural site, and are comparable to those found near many Canadian roadways and cities in Europe and Asia. The polluted air also contained traces of benzo-a-pyrene, a potent mutagen and carcinogen that has also been found in tobacco smoke.

A complex chain of bilological events is believed to have delivered the toxins to the testis.The particles would have been inhaled deep into rodents' lungs, where the toxins would have transferred into the bloodstream and on to the testis where they exacted a genetic toll on rapidly multiplying sperm cells.

Quinn says more research is planned to explore the health effects of genetic changes.

PAH and othr particulates are often high within 50 to 100 metres of busy urban roads and are a major component of the smog that often chokes the air along the Windsor to Quebec City corridor and B.C.'s Fraser Valley. While face masks and air filters can reduce exposure to toxic particulates, Quinn says it is much more sensible to reduce production of the pollutants. He also says trees collect particulates on their leaves and can markedly reduce the levels wafting through the air.

“Trees are like Nature's HEPA filter,” says Quinn, who hopes the study will be taken to heart in Hamilton, which is about to chop down thousands of trees to make way for a freeway that will run through a low-income residential area.