Smog Exposure Linked to Early Death
A large study has demonstrated for the first time that long-term exposure to smog significantly increases the risk of dying from lung disease.
The risk of dying from respiratory disease is more than three times higher in areas with the most concentrated ozone (mostly cities) than in those with the lowest concentrations, according to the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The report is the first nationwide study to evaluate the effects of long-term impacts of ozone on human health and the first to separate the effects of ozone pollution from those of fine particle pollution, or soot, according to a statement from New York University's Langone Medical Center.
"Many studies have shown that a high ozone day leads to an increase in risk of acute health effects the next day, for example, asthma attacks and heart attacks," said co-author George Thurston, a professor at NYU's Department of Environmental Medicine, in the statement.
"What this study says is that to protect the public's health, we can't just reduce the peaks, we must also reduce long-term, cumulative exposure."
One in three Americans live in a city in violation of the Environmental Protection Agency's safe ozone standards, according to the researchers.
The study examined 96 metropolitan areas and ranked them by those with the highest levels of ozone. Locations in California topped the list: Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, and Los Angeles-Long Beach had the worst ozone levels, although two other areas in California - San Francisco, and Salinas-Seaside-Monterrey - had the least ozone.
A full ranking of the areas studied can be found here.