Pollution kills. That's why I want solar, wind, nukes, and geothermal to replace coal and natural gas for electricity generation.
NEW YORK, March 11, 2009 – Long-term exposure to elevated levels of ground ozone—a major constituent of smog—significantly raises the risk of dying from lung disease, according to a new nationwide study of cities that evaluated the impact of ozone on respiratory health over an 18-year period.
The study found that the risk of dying from respiratory disease is more than 30 percent greater in metropolitan areas with the highest ozone concentrations than in those with the lowest ozone concentrations.
Over the last decade, several nationwide studies have shown that long-term exposure to tiny particles of dust and soot in air pollution is a risk factor for death from heart and lung disease. However, it was unclear whether long-term exposure to ozone, a widespread pollutant in summertime haze, was linked to a higher risk of dying from lung disease itself.
The new study, published in the March 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, is the first nationwide population study on the long-term impact of ozone on human health, and the first to separate ozone's effects from those of fine particulate matter, the tiny particles of pollutants emitted by factories, cars, and power plants.
Stay out of Riverside and Hell-A California. Why do people live in these places? It is a puzzle.
Ozone data collected between 1977 and 2000 showed that California had both the city with the highest and the city with the lowest concentration of ozone pollution in the country. The researchers estimate that the risk of dying from respiratory causes rises 4 percent for every 10 parts-per-billion increase in exposure to ozone. Based on that result, Dr. Thurston says the city with the highest mean daily maximum ozone concentration over the 18-year period of the study, was Riverside (104 ppb). This long-term cumulative exposure corresponded to roughly a 50 percent increased risk of dying from lung disease compared to no exposure to the pollutant. Los Angeles ran a close second, with an estimated 43 percent increased risk.
Northeast cities were generally lower in ozone than California. In Washington, DC, and New York City, for example, the study results indicate a 27 and 25 percent increased risk of respiratory death, as a result of their respective long-term ozone exposures, says Dr. Thurston. The estimated increased risk from cumulative exposure in New York occurs even though New Yorkers breathe air that is nearly in compliance with the EPA's present short-term ozone standard of 75 ppb, he says.
San Francisco's fog protects.
The lowest ozone concentration was seen in San Francisco (33 ppb long-term average daily maximum), which had an associated 14 percent increase in risk. San Francisco has low levels of ozone pollution because fog regularly blankets the city, which prevents the necessary photochemical reaction from occurring, says Dr. Jerrett. In addition, Dr. Thurston points out that the Los Angeles area, which has high levels, is located in a basin, which prevents the rapid dispersal and dilution of air pollution that occurs in San Francisco.
If you are living in the United States then you can check out your own county's ozone levels as measured by the EPA (PDF document).
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