US Air Pollution Causes More Than 100,000 Premature Deaths

A new study by the National Academies of Science published on Monday concluded that in 2011, the finest scale particulate matter air pollution (PM2.5)  caused 107,000 premature deaths in the U.S. and cost the economy nearly $900 million dollars.  The study’s authors, using data from the Environmental Protection Agency, calculated location-specific estimates of the damage from emissions in order to help policymakers identify the most effective strategies to mitigate and minimize the worst impacts.  According to the study, of all the deaths:

The number of deaths associated with particulate pollution is  “more than traffic accidents and homicides combined,” study co-author Julian Marshall, a professor at the University of Washington told CNN. “Seeing this should be a strong motivator to make improvements.”According to CNN, PM2.5 is very harmful because it gets stuck in your lungs and/or enter your bloodstream instead of being exhaled.  Even these fine-scale particles, which are microscopic, cause harmful irritation and inflammation in the lungs and can lead to respiratory problems. The authors concluded that it is important to work to stop pollution at the source because the marginal damages of PM2.5 can vary greatly even within a single county.

Why This Matters:  This study comes on the heels of the State of Global Air Report last week found that air pollution today is going to cause on average a loss of nearly two years of life span for today’s infants.  It is easy to focus on the bad news.  But this information is power.  The knowledge that as individuals we are losing years of our lives due to air pollution ought to motivate us to do something about it now.  And this study helps us to know how to mitigate the most harmful impacts of PM2.5 pollution in the most effective way.  Now we need to act.

Up Next

Volvo Announces Move to 100% EVs by 2030 As White House Talks Charging Infrastructure

Volvo announced on Tuesday that it will move to make its entire car line-up fully electric by 2030, joining other big automakers, including Ford and Jaguar, in taking a green leap of faith. Until this month, Volvo only offered one fully electric vehicle, but unveiled its second, the C40, on Tuesday. 

Why This Matters: As more companies commit to 100% electric fleets, they’re solidifying a harsh reality for the fossil fuel industry: its number is almost up.

Continue Reading 552 words
More States Adopt Stricter Vehicle Emission Standards

More States Adopt Stricter Vehicle Emission Standards

As the Biden administration is readying a reversal of the Trump policies loosening rules on auto emissions, many states have started tightening their laws to align with the California clean car standards.  Case in point: the Virginia legislature last week passed a law that toughened its emissions standards

Why this Matters: Last year, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order that would phase out the sale of gas-powered passenger vehicles by 2035 — and New Jersey and Massachusetts have indicated that they want to follow suit.

Continue Reading 454 words

Gas Flaring Wastes Energy and Pollutes the Air – Why is it Still Happening?

Gas flaring was responsible for Texas’s recent increase in oil refinery pollution, but it’s hardly a new problem. We’re less than a decade away from the UN’s goal of Zero Routine Flaring by 2030, but refineries still flare 150 billion cubic meters of natural gas each year, releasing 400 million tons of greenhouse gasses and other pollutants into the atmosphere.

Why This Matters: Companies have historically practiced gas flaring as a convenient and inexpensive way to “dispose of ” gas that was extracted alongside oil, as opposed to storing paying to store it.

Continue Reading 578 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.