Comprehensive study finds link between air pollution and mortality

Comprehensive study finds link between air pollution and mortality

Written by Timothy Huzar on July 14, 2020 — Fact checked by Allison Kirsop, Ph.D.

A major new study has found a causal link between exposure to air pollution and increased chances of premature death.


Share on PinterestNew research indicates causality between high rates of pollution and premature death.

New research has provided further evidence that exposure to fine air particulates causes an increased risk of premature death.

The research, published in the journal Science Advances, indicates that strengthening the current air pollution standards in the United States could save the lives of 143,257 people over the next 10 years.

Fine particulate air pollution

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determines the air quality standards in the U. S. It identifies the level of a range of pollutants that local, regional, and national governments have a responsibility to adhere to.

The EPA base these levels on current scientific literature demonstrating the harmful effects of air pollution on people’s health.

Since their inception in 1971, the safe level of fine particulate concentrations has steadily decreased as new research comes to light.

There is well-documented evidence linking fine particulate air pollution to health, particularly its link to cardiovascular and respiratory issues. According to the EPA, fine particulate can come directly from a range of sources, such as fires or construction sites. They can also form in the atmosphere in chemical reactions with air pollutants.

Recently, research has suggested that exposure to fine particulate air pollution concentrations below the maximum determined by the EPA can adversely affect health.

However, some experts, including the chair of EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, have contested these findings. They argue that there is no verifiable evidence to confirm a causal relationship between air pollution concentrations lower than the current standards and adverse effects on health.

To overcome this objection, the authors of the present research conducted a thorough and extensive study to identify whether some other factors might account for the link between low fine particulate air pollution concentrations and adverse health effects and whether they can demonstrate causality.

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