Thursday, September 5, 2013

Air pollution blamed for 200,000 early US deaths each year

Environment News Service: Polluted air causes roughly 200,000 early deaths each year across the United States, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology conclude after tracking emissions from industrial smokestacks, vehicle tailpipes, marine and rail transport, and commercial and residential heating.

Emissions from road transportation are the most deadly, causing 53,000 premature deaths a year, followed by power generation, with 52,000 deaths, finds the study by MIT’s Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment published in the journal “Atmospheric Environment.”

“It was surprising to me just how significant road transportation was, especially when you imagine coal-fired power stations are burning relatively dirty fuel,” said lead researcher Steven Barrett, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT.

Barrett said that a person who dies from an air pollution-related cause typically dies about a decade earlier than he or she otherwise might have. “In the past five to 10 years, the evidence linking air-pollution exposure to risk of early death has really solidified and gained scientific and political traction. “There’s a realization that air pollution is a major problem in any city, and there’s a desire to do something about it,” Barrett said.

California suffers the worst health impacts from air pollution, with about 21,000 early deaths annually, mostly attributed to road transportation and to commercial and residential emissions from heating and cooking, the researchers learned from their state-by-state analysis...

Smog shot by Gene Daniels, 1972, EPA photo

No comments: