Friday, September 20, 2013

What Sources of Air Pollution Cause the Most Premature Deaths?

Air pollution and early deaths in the United States. Part I: Quantifying the impact of major sectors in 2005(Abstract, Fabio Caiazzo, Akshay Ashok, Ian A. Waitz, Steve H.L. Yim, Steven R.H. Barrett, Atmospheric Environment, November, 2013)

Also discussed here: Air pollution causes 200,000 early deaths each year in the US, study finds(PHYSORG, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Aug. 29, 2013)

Today we review research which examines the sources of air pollution causing early death in the USA. About half of the 200,000 premature deaths are linked to vehicle emissions and electric power generation with less to industrial pollution which historically had been thought to be the largest contributor and the object of many air pollution reduction policies. Road transportation, in particular, is singled out as a major threat as a result of growing urban populations and the proximity of people to the emissions.

road power deaths

Key Quotes:

“A multi-scale air quality model is applied to assess the health impacts of major emissions sectors in United States. Emissions are classified according to six different sources: electric power generation, industry, commercial and residential sources, road transportation, marine transportation and rail transportation.”  

Emissions from road transportation are the most significant contributor, causing 53,000 premature deaths, followed closely by power generation, with 52,000.”

"It was surprising to me just how significant road transportation was..especially when you imagine [that] coal-fired power stations are burning relatively dirty fuel…vehicles tend to travel in populated areas, increasing large populations' pollution exposure, whereas power plants are generally located far from most populations and their emissions are deposited at a higher altitude.”

“Pollution from industrial activities was highest in the Midwest, roughly between Chicago and Detroit, as well as around Philadelphia, Atlanta and Los Angeles.”

“California suffers the worst health impacts from air pollution, with about 21,000 early deaths annually, mostly attributed to road transportation and to commercial and residential emissions from heating and cooking. “

“The researchers also mapped local emissions in 5,695 U.S. cities, finding the highest emissions-related mortality rate in Baltimore, where 130 out of every 100,000 residents likely die in a given year due to long-term exposure to air pollution. “

 “a person who dies from an air pollution-related cause typically dies about a decade earlier than he or she otherwise might have.”
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