Air Pollution Causes 200,000 Early Deaths Each Year In U.S.
WASHINGTON: Nearly two lakh Americans die early due to air pollution, a new MIT study has claimed.
Scientists said that a person who dies from an air pollution-related cause typically dies about a decade earlier than he or she otherwise might have.
Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)'s Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment tracked ground-level emissions from sources such as industrial smokestacks, vehicle tailpipes, marine and rail operations, and commercial and residential heating throughout the US.
They found that such air pollution causes about 200,000 early deaths each year.
Emissions from road transportation are the most significant contributor, causing 53,000 premature deaths, followed closely by power generation, with 52,000.
In a state-by-state analysis, the researchers found that 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.
Researchers also mapped local emissions in 5,695 US 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.
"In the past five to 10 years, the evidence linking air-pollution exposure to risk of early death has really solidified and gained scientific and political traction," said Steven Barrett, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT.
"There's a realisation that air pollution is a major problem in any city, and there's a desire to do something about it," Barret said.
The researchers collected data from the year 2005, the most recent data available at the time of the study.
They then divided the data into six emissions sectors: electric power generation; industry; commercial and residential sources; road transportation; marine transportation; and rail transportation.
Barrett's team fed the emissions data from all six sources into an air-quality simulation of the impact of emissions on particles and gases in the atmosphere.
The greatest number of emissions-related premature deaths came from road transportation, with 53,000 early deaths per year attributed to exhaust from the tailpipes of cars and trucks.
"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," Barrett said.
The study was published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.