Air Pollution Is Now Getting Worse In US, Killing Thousands

Air pollution is growing and many Americans have already experienced its effects. A new study based on federal government data found that poor air quality contributed to nearly 10,000 premature deaths and billions of damages across the U.S. 

Researchers analyzed data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to see how regulations are working in the country to improve air quality. The study suggests that despite federal efforts, air pollution is worsening.

The effects of air pollution killed 9,700 in 2018. The deaths came after concentrations of fine particulate matter increased by 5.5 percent in the last two years, CNN reported Thursday.

Researchers also found that the declining air quality in the country led to $89 billion in financial damages. In addition, many Americans have been experiencing worse health conditions due to air pollution. 

“I think the thing that people often overlook and that we don't have great data on is the kid down the block who has asthma, and whose asthma is getting worse,” Karen Clay, study co-author and a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, said. “The person who has emphysema for whom breathing is even harder. Those peoples' lives are being made worse as well.”

The study, published in the National Bureau of Economic Research, suggests that the country’s air quality decreased potentially due to increasing economic activity, wildfires and poor enforcement of EPA clean-air regulations.

For the study, researchers analyzed the presence of the particles called PM2.5. These tiny but harmful particles have been linked to serious cardiovascular and respiratory problems.

PM2.5 commonly comes from burning of natural gas and carbon emissions. The increasing energy consumption in the U.S. also contributed to the particle’s presence in the air, the researchers said. 

Meanwhile, the sudden and uncontrolled wildfires in the western side of the country also release soot and ash, which negatively affect local air quality. 

The researchers have called on EPA to enforce clean-air regulations to address the growing impact of air pollution. 

"The thing that's surprising in terms of enforcement is that now that [pollution] has started to go back up, we might expect to see a response in terms of increasing enforcement activity," Clay said. "And at least the data we have so far don't suggest that."

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