Premature death in older people linked to short term low levels of pollution
The most comprehensive study of short term exposure to pollution and mortality in seniors has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The study carried out by Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health used data from the entire U.S Medicare population of individuals in 39,182 zip codes across America (93% of all American’s zip codes).
Over a 13 year period 22 million people in the study died, the researchers found that for every 10ug/m3 daily increase in PM2.5 and 10ppb daily increase in warm season ozone the daily death rate increased by 1.05% and 0.51% respectively. This may not sound like a huge number but the study showed that an increase of just 1ug/m3 in daily PM2.5 levels during just one summer would result in the premature deaths of 550 individuals.
The researchers concluded that short term exposure of PM2.5 and ozone even at levels below the current national safety levels are linked to a higher risk of premature death in older individuals.
NOTE: PM2.5’s are less than 10 micrometers in diameter and are small enough to get into the lungs. They are produced from combustion including motor vehicles, power plants, agricultural burning, wood burning, forest fires and other industrial processes.