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Study Ties Premature Death to Air Pollution

Buildings are seen on a hazy day in Xiangyang, Hubei province, China, Dec. 31, 2016. The current round of air pollution struck Friday and isn't expected to lift until Thursday.

The Trump administration may be ready to roll back some regulations covered by the Clean Air Act limiting some pollutants that contributed to smog-choked American cities in the 1970s.

But new research from China suggests clean air can save millions of lives.

More pollution, more deaths

Researchers at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention compared the levels of particulate air pollution in 38 of China’s largest cities.

The pollution they studied is tiny, less than 10 microns. That’s smaller than the width of a human hair.

Over a three-and-a-half-year period from 2010 to 2013, the researchers recorded more than 350,000 deaths.

Examining those deaths, the researchers found that 87 percent of them could be tied to high levels of particulate matter in the air.

And the more research they did they discovered that air pollution “appeared to have a much greater impact on deaths due to cardiorespiratory diseases,” the researchers said in a press release, “such as asthma and chronic lung disease (COPD), than it did on deaths due to other causes.”

They also found that air pollution seems to have a larger effect on women and older people than on men or younger people.

The researchers predict that just lowering air pollution to the standards suggested by the World Health Organization could prevent “3 million premature deaths each year.”

The research is published in the journal BMJ.

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    Kevin Enochs

    Kevin Enochs is an award-winning content creator who has been explaining the intricacies of the natural world to television and online audiences for over 20 years.

    He perfected his craft working for CNN and the National Geographic Channel before heading to the Voice of America in 2012.