Study: Air pollution kills more than 100,000 in U.S. each year

How important is it to have a high-efficiency air purifier at home? Consider this: A study published last month by the Society for Risk Analysis concludes that particle and ozone air pollution cause more premature deaths every year in the U.S. than do accidents. Or Alzheimer’s. Or influenza. More than 100,000 premature deaths every year in the U.S. are caused by outdoor particle air pollution, according to the study. And ozone pollution adds tens of thousands of additional premature deaths to that number, the study concludes.

The regions with the highest levels of premature deaths from air pollution are probably no surprise: the northeastern United States, the industrial Midwest, and Southern California. The assessment concluded that in Los Angeles fully 10 percent of premature deaths are attributable to air pollution. Other air-pollution impacts: 200,000 nonfatal acute myocardial infarctions related to particle pollution, tens of thousands of hospitalizations and emergency department visits, and hundreds of thousands of particle-pollution-caused cases of acute bronchitis. An acute myocardial infarction, by the way, is also known as a heart attack.

There is some good news: The study was based on levels of particulates and ozone from 2005. Since then, there have been modest improvements in air pollution levels in most regions of the United States. On the other hand, using alternate methods of risk assessment the study concluded that annual premature deaths in the U.S. from particulate air pollution may actually be as high as 320,000 per year.

Of course, outdoor pollution becomes indoor pollution. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says indoor air pollution levels are typically 2-5 times higher than outdoors. The agency recognizes three strategies for combating indoor air pollution: The first two are source reduction and ventilation. But how do you achieve source reduction and ventilation with clean air when the air outdoors is dirty? The answer is to use a high-efficiency air purifier to clean the air indoors. And the latest study from the Society for Risk Analysis adds new urgency to the issue when so many lives are at risk.

The study, “Estimating the National Public Health Burden Associated with Exposure to Ambient PM 2.5 and Ozone,” was authored by a team of researchers at the U.S. EPA.

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