A new study claims that even though air pollution levels in the United States are falling, the quality of the air is still affecting and even killing people each year.
This latest research found that even respecting the air pollution levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency can still lead to health problems.
“We are now providing bullet-proof evidence that we are breathing harmful air. Our air is contaminated,” stated Francesca Dominici.
She is the study’ lead author and a professor of biostatistics part of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
US Air Pollution Leads to Thousands of Deaths Every Year
The research team set out on conducting the most comprehensive survey on the matter up to date. They did so to determine the effects and consequences that the US air pollution has on the residents.
For this, the researchers gathered data collected by federal air monitoring stations and satellites. This was used to create a very detailed picture of the air pollution levels going down to each individual zip code. Then, this was taken and compared to mortality rates registered among 60 million Medicare patients in between 2000 to 2012. The team analyzed the impact of even very low air pollution levels on their lives.
According to the results, some 12,000 lives could potentially be saved each year if the air quality was just a bit higher. More precisely, if the nationwide level of fine particulate matter was just 1 microgram per cubic meter of air lower than its current standards.
Fine particulate matter are basically tiny particles of soot and dust. These can be easily inhaled and affect the lungs and airways. Especially so over long periods of time and in high quantities.
The study team considers that the current air safety levels should be adjusted. By doing so, they believe that the US air pollution levels will continue declining. They could also reach an as low as possible rate.
Study results are available in a paper in The New England Journal of Medicine.
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