Air Monitoring

  • Road traffic air pollution is responsible for the most premature deaths

Air pollution causes 200,000 premature US deaths a year

Sep 02 2013 Comments 0

Around 200,000 people in the US every year die prematurely due to air pollution related illnesses, according to new research. A new study, performed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has suggested that people living in US cities that are subject to high levels of air pollution are at risk of premature death.

The study, published in the journal 'Atmospheric Environment', details how emissions from a number of sources were tracked throughout the US. Information from the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) National Emissions Inventory in order to estimate the number of premature deaths each year can be linked to air pollution.

In order to achieve the most accurate results, the information used from the EPA was from the year 2005, which was the most recent available figures. The types of emissions were split into six different sections: industry, road transportation, electric power generation, marine transportation, commercial and residential sources and rail transportation.

It was found that the most detrimental form of air pollution, in terms of the damage done to human health, was that created by road transportation. In total around 53,000 premature deaths are attributed to pollution released from vehicle exhausts each year. Combustion engines release small particle pollution, which has been linked to a number of illnesses including lung cancer and heart disease.

The researchers suggest that the high effect road transportation has upon premature deaths could be due to the increase in exhaust emissions in densely populated and urban areas. This means more people are subjected to air pollution within a small area. It is also likely that the low altitude of the emissions has some effect.

Data was analysed for each US state in order to ascertain which have the worst levels of air quality. It was found that air pollution in California results in the most premature deaths each year, with 21,000. The majority of these deaths were related to commercial and residential emissions and road traffic.

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