News / Health

Study: Air Pollution Causes 200,000 Early Deaths in US

FILE - Smog from smokestacks, diesel engines, automobiles, and other sources of pollution, Los Angeles, April 2009.FILE - Smog from smokestacks, diesel engines, automobiles, and other sources of pollution, Los Angeles, April 2009.
x
FILE - Smog from smokestacks, diesel engines, automobiles, and other sources of pollution, Los Angeles, April 2009.
FILE - Smog from smokestacks, diesel engines, automobiles, and other sources of pollution, Los Angeles, April 2009.

Related Articles

Video Beijing Rolls Out Carpool Campaign

Chinese city has more than five million registered cars on the road and its traffic and pollution woes are no small problem

Video Scientists Work to Save Disappearing Kelp Forests

Underwater kelp forests are sometimes called the rainforests of the sea, but they share the same fate as the verdant jungles on land

US Man Determined to Build Largest Private Underground Shelter

Robert Vicino, owner of Vivos, thinks humans are living in 'end times' and wants to be prepared for scenarios that could lead to Armageddon
VOA News
Air pollution causes about 200,000 early deaths each year in the United States, according to a new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Researchers at MIT’s Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment, say emissions from road transportation are the leading single cause of pollution, contributing 53,000 premature deaths, and that electrical power generation causes another 52,000.

“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,” says Steven Barrett, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT. “There’s a realization that air pollution is a major problem in any city, and there’s a desire to do something about it.”

Baltimore, Maryland, was the city with the highest emissions-related death rate in the United States, with 130 out of every 100,000 deaths likely caused by exposure to air pollution.

According to Barrett, a person who dies from air-pollution causes typically dies about a decade earlier than he or she might have otherwise.

The study was done using data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Emissions Inventory, a catalog of emissions sources nationwide.  The data was from 2005, the most recent available.

That data was divided into sources of pollution: electric power generation; industry; commercial and residential sources; road transportation; marine transportation; and rail transportation. Then, using an air-quality simulation, they were able to determine which source had the greatest impact and in what parts of the country.

Most premature deaths -- due to commercial and residential pollution sources, such as heating and cooking emissions -- occurred in densely populated regions along the East and West coasts. Pollution from industrial activities was highest in the Midwest, roughly between Chicago and Detroit, as well as around Philadelphia, Atlanta and Los Angeles. Industrial emissions also peaked along the Gulf Coast region, possibly due to the proximity of the largest oil refineries in the United States.

Pollution from electricity generation still accounted for 52,000 premature deaths annually. The largest impact was seen in the east-central United States and in the Midwest: Eastern power plants tend to use coal with higher sulfur content than Western plants.

Southern California had the largest health impact from marine-derived pollution, such as from shipping and port activities, with 3,500 related early deaths. Emissions-related deaths from rail activities were comparatively slight, and spread uniformly across the east-central part of the country and the Midwest.

“It was surprising to me just how significant road transportation was,” Barrett said, “especially when you imagine [that] coal-fired power stations are burning relatively dirty fuel.”

One explanation may be that vehicles tend to travel in populated areas, increasing the pollution exposure of large populations, whereas power plants are generally located far from most populations and their emissions are deposited at a higher altitude.

While the study is based on data from 2005, Barrett says the results are likely representative of today’s pollution-related health risks.

“A public-health burden of this magnitude clearly requires significant policy attention, especially since technologies are readily available to address a significant fraction of these emissions,” said Jonathan Levy, a professor of environmental health at Boston University, who was not involved in the research. “We have certainly invested significant societal resources to address far smaller impacts on public health.”

Barrett and his colleagues published their results in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid