American Lung Association has just released the results of their Annual State of the Air Report. Here are the results of their 2009 Health Risks Overview.
Ozone and particle pollution are the most widespread air pollutants and among the most dangerous. Recent research has revealed new insights into how they can harm the body including taking the lives of infants and altering the lungs of children. All in all, the evidence shows that the risks are greater than we once thought. Recent findings provide more evidence about the health impacts of these pollutants:
- Reducing air pollution has extended life expectancy. Thanks to a drop in particle pollution between 1980 and 2000, life expectancy in 51 U.S. cities increased by 5 months on average, according to a recent analysis.1
- The annual death toll from particle pollution may be even greater than previously understood. The California Air Resources Board recently tripled the estimate of premature deaths in California from particle pollution to 18,000 annually.2
- Long term exposure to air pollution.especially from highway traffic.harms women, even while in their 50s. Exposure to particle pollution to appears to increase women’s risk of lower lung function, developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and dying prematurely.3
- Busy highways are high risk zones. Pollution from heavy highway traffic contributes to higher risks for heart attack, allergies, premature births and the death of infants around the time they are born.4 New studies looking at the impact of traffic pollution even in cities with generally cleaner air expanded the concern over the health effects of chronic exposure to exhaust from heavy traffic.
- Ozone pollution can shorten life, a conclusion confirmed by the latest scientific review by the National Research Council.5 New evidence appeared that some segments of the population may face higher risks from dying prematurely because of ozone pollution, including communities with high unemployment or high public transit use and Blacks.6
- Truck drivers, dockworkers and railroad workers may face higher risk of death from lung cancer and COPD from breathing diesel emissions on the job. Studies found that these workers who inhaled diesel exhaust on the job were much more likely to die from lung cancer, COPD and heart disease.7
Two types of air pollution dominate the problem in the U.S.. ozone and particle pollution. They aren’t the only serious air pollutants: others include carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide, as well as hundreds of toxic substances. However, ozone and particle pollution represent the most widespread.
FACT: Minorities and lower income groups are often disproportionately affected by illnesses that put them at higher risk from air pollution