The Grapevine

Air Pollution Is Killing Thousands Of Americans, Study Warns

A study of air quality in all counties across the U.S. shows that pollution has been killing thousands of Americans. Many areas also showed lower life expectancy due to hazardous materials from vehicles, power plants and industry. 

The study, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, examined the effects of fine particles, called PM2.5, floating around the U.S., excluding Alaska and Hawaii. These tiny particles can go deep into the lungs and trigger a number of health complications, such as heart attack and lung diseases.

Tulare County in California recorded the highest concentration of PM2.5 in the country in 2015. The area experienced 13.2ug/m3, while in the same year Apache County, Arizona, saw the lowest amount recorded of 2.8ug/m3.

However, researchers at Imperial College London and Carnegie Mellon University said both PM2.5 records contributed to nearly 30,370 deaths. Most deaths were linked to heart and lung disorders, such as heart attack and lung diseases, including asthma.

“We've known for some time that these particles can be deadly,” Majid Ezzati, lead study author and a professor at Imperial School of Public Health, said in a statement. “This study suggests even at seemingly low concentrations - mostly below current limits - they still cause tens of thousands of deaths.”

For the study, researchers gathered data from various sources nationwide, including more than 750 air quality monitoring stations and space-based satellites. They then compared air pollution data with death counts from the National Center for Health Statistics. 

Results showed 18.4 million deaths from cardiorespiratory diseases between 1999 and 2015. Researchers said their data provided a strong link between the deaths and air pollution.

The presence of PM2.5 also reduced U.S.-wide life expectancy by 0.13 years for men and 0.15 years for women. Los Angeles, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Alabama, among other southern states had the highest life expectancy loss.

Ezzati said the PM2.5 concentrations are still low in the U.S. despite the number of associated deaths. But he noted higher levels of the particles were present in many cities in Europe that means higher number of deaths due to air pollution. 

Air Pollution Long term exposure to air pollution is widely known to worsen asthma and reduce lung function. Pixabay