A  A  A   Print
2 Million Deaths a Year Could Be Due to Air Pollution: Study

2 Million Deaths a Year Could Be Due to Air Pollution: Study

FRIDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- Air pollution claims more than 2 million lives worldwide every year, according to a new study.

And roughly 470,000 deaths occur each year due to increases in ozone caused by humans, the study authors said.

On the other hand, climate change only has a minimal effect on air pollution and rising death rates, the authors concluded.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina estimated that about 2.1 million people die as a result of a surge in fine particulate matter air pollution. These tiny air particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause cancer and other respiratory illnesses.

"Our estimates make outdoor air pollution among the most important environmental risk factors for health," study co-author Jason West, of the University of North Carolina, said in a journal news release. "Many of these deaths are estimated to occur in East Asia and South Asia, where population is high and air pollution is severe."

In conducting the study, the researchers simulated the concentrations of ozone and fine particulate matter air pollution in 1850, when the industrial era began, and in the year 2000. The study used 14 different climate models to simulate levels of ozone and another six to simulate fine particulate matter caused by humans.

"We have also found that there is significant uncertainty based on the spread among different atmospheric models," West said. "This would caution against using a single model in the future, as some studies have done."

The researchers also examined previous epidemiological studies to determine how concentrations of air pollution relate to death rates around the world.

The study, published July 12 in the journal Environmental Research Letters, showed that although climate changes may worsen the effects of air pollution, they do not significantly increase death rates. Climate changes have resulted in 1,500 deaths due to ozone and 2,200 deaths resulting from fine particulate matter air pollution every year.

Climate change can affect air pollution in many ways, the researchers said. For example, rainfall can determine when pollutants accumulate. Rising temperatures can increase the emissions of organic compounds from trees, which react in the atmosphere and form ozone and fine particulate matter.

"Very few studies have attempted to estimate the effects of past climate change on air quality and health," West said. "We found that the effects of past climate change are likely to be a very small component of the overall effect of air pollution."

More information

Visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to learn more about air pollution.

SOURCE: Environmental Research Letters, news release, July 11, 2013

 
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.