Harvard Study Links Air Pollution with Premature Death

August 7, 2017

On June 28, 2017 the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health posted a press release on a Harvard New England Journal of Medicine study documenting the increased risk of premature death as a result of exposure to air pollution.

"Boston, MA - A new study of 60 million Americans—about 97% of people age 65 and older in the United States—shows that long-term exposure to airborne fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and ozone increases the risk of premature death, even when that exposure is at levels below the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) currently established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers found that men, blacks, and low-income populations had higher risk estimates from PM2.5 exposure compared with the national average, with blacks having mortality risks three times higher than the national average.

The results showed that if the level of PM2.5 could be lowered by just 1 microgram per cubic meter (ug/m3) nationwide, about 12,000 lives could be saved every year. Similarly, if the level of ozone could be lowered by just 1 part per billion (ppb) nationwide, about 1,900 lives would be saved each year."

To access the release in full click on Nationwide study of U.S. seniors strengthens link between air pollution and premature death.

The LA Times also reported on this study in a 6/28/17 article by Tony Barboza:

"At a time when the Trump administration is moving to delay and dismantle air quality regulations, a new study suggests that air pollution continues to cut Americans' lives short, even at levels well below the legal limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The nationwide study of more than 60 million senior citizens linked long-term exposure to two main smog pollutants—ozone and fine particulate matter—to an increased risk of premature death.

The analysis found no sign of a safe level of pollution, below which the risk of dying early tapered off.

Harvard University scientists who conducted the study calculated that reducing fine particle pollution by 1 microgram per cubic meter nationwide would save about 12,000 lives each year. Another 1,900 lives would be saved annually by lowering ozone pollution by 1 part per billion, they found."

To access the article in full click on Air pollution exposure may hasten death, even at levels deemed 'safe,' study says .

For a 6/28/17 National Public Broadcasting (NPR) report on the same study, click on U.S. Air Pollution Still Kills Thousands Every Year, Study Concludes.

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