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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

36 people are confirmed dead, but some 270 remain trapped on board More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid