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Short-term exposure to low levels of air pollution linked with premature death among U.S. seniors

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Short-term exposures to fine particulate air pollution and ozone—even at levels well below current national safety standards—were linked to higher risk of premature death among the elderly in the U.S. according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The risk was even higher among elderly who were low-income, female, or Black.

The study was published December 26, 2017 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Short-term exposures to fine particulate air pollution and ozone—even at levels well below current national safety standards—were linked to higher risk of premature death among the elderly in the U.S. according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The risk was even higher among elderly who were low-income, female, or Black.

The study was published December 26, 2017 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

“This the most comprehensive study of short-term exposure to pollution and mortality to date,” said Francesca Dominici, professor of biostatistics, co-director of the Harvard Data Science Initiative, and senior author of the study. “We found that the mortality rate increases almost linearly as air pollution increases. Any level of air pollution, no matter how low, is harmful to human health.”

Studies have shown that fine inhalable particles (PM2.5) and ozone—particularly ‘warm-season ozone,’ which occurs from April to September—are linked with increased mortality rates. Under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), long-term exposures to PM2.5 are considered safe if they average 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air (12 μg/m3) or less per day over the course of a year. The 24-hour standard is 35 µg/m3. For warm-season ozone there is no annual standard; the 8-hour standard is 70 parts per billion (ppb).

Continue reading at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

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