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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.
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.
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.
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