Two million die prematurely each year and 40% of the world’s population affected by indoor air pollution, says world renowned scientist at Sixth ICEMHP

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•Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development hosted The Sixth International Conference on Environmental Mutagens in Human Populations in Doha 26 – 29 March 2012 •Nobel Laureate Dr Kirk Smith presented research on the effects of incomplete combustion •Best three poster presentations submitted by students and junior investigators were awarded at closing ceremony

The Sixth International Conference on Environmental Mutagens in Human Populations (ICEMHP) took place last week in Doha, Qatar. Experts from around the world gathered to discuss the latest developments in the field and pave the way for further collaboration.

The main highlight of the conference was the keynote presentation by Dr Kirk R. Smith, Professor of Global Environmental Health at the University of California, Berkeley, on incomplete combustion. Dr Smith, a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences, has devoted much of his research to environmental and health issues in developing countries, and reported that small particulate matter from indoor cooking and open flame heating are having a dramatic impact on the health of 40% of the world’s population.

In his presentation, “The Unfinished Policy and Research Agenda of Incomplete Combustion: A Major Killer”, Dr Smith showed that inefficient combustion of solid fuels (such as coal, wood and crop residues) in households produces well known carcinogens including formaldehyde and benzene. Typical solid fuel cook stoves convert 6%-20% of the fuel carbon to toxic elements. The use of solid fuels is growing, as close to three billion people are exposed to household solid fuel use, predominantly in developing countries. Exposure to indoor smoke causes close to two million premature deaths every year. To put this into context, Dr Smith explained that one Chernobyl-type nuclear disaster every month for twelve months would cause less than 100,000 premature deaths per year. Among the diseases known to be caused by exposure to indoor smoke are lung cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Dr Smith is an outstanding contributor to the field of environmental health and has received widespread recognition for his work. The co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, Dr Smith also received the Heinz Prize in Environment in 2009 and, most recently, was awarded the 2012 Tyler Environmental Prize – one of the highest recognitions in the field of environmental science.

Dr Smith’s keynote presentation was followed by a panel discussion on environmental aspects and human health, hosted and moderated by the Qatar Environment Energy Research Institute.

The final day of the Sixth ICEMHP also included sessions on the efficacy and safety of drug use in developing countries, environmental contamination’s effect on non-cancer disease, ethical issues of environmental health and the application of scientific knowledge to disease prevention.

One of the aims of the Sixth ICEMHP was to engage with young scientists, students and junior investigators by giving them the opportunity to submit their work and to present it to their colleagues. The conference came to its official conclusion after the best poster presentations submitted by students and junior investigators were awarded during the closing ceremony. The first prize was awarded to Vignesh Shanmugam, from Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, for his poster entitled “An Alternative Mechanism for Melatonin’s Protective Effects on Metal Ion Toxicity.” Second prize went to Rozaini Abdullah, from Kebangsaan University of Malaysia, for a poster presentation on “Risk Assessment of Local Belcan Intake”. Third prize was awarded to Nawaf Al Taweel, of Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, for the presentation entitled “Intracellular Calcium Modulators Modulate Cisplatin-Induced Calcium”.

ENDS

For more information please contact:

Ben Chaplin
Tonic Life Communications, London
Tel: 0207 798 9929
Email: Ben(dot)Chaplin(at)toniclc(dot)com

Abigail Ward
Tonic Life Communications, London
Tel: 0207 798 9998
Email: Abigail(dot)Ward(at)toniclc(dot)com

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Ben Chaplin
Tonic Life Communications
0207 798 9929
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Abigail Ward
Tonic Life Communications
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