Researchers linked nine causes of death with a certain type pollution when reviewing medical records of deceased veterans
US air pollution rules could be hugely insufficient in preventing deaths, experts are concluding from a new study of the likely causes of death of 4.5 million veterans.
Published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA, the research finds that 99% of deaths from illnesses linked to a certain type of air pollution occur in people who are exposed to lower levels than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently deems acceptable.
But Donald Trump’s EPA could be set to maintain the current standard – thus leading to continued air pollution-associated deaths. The agency is also reconsidering the established science linking particle pollution from fossil fuels and other sources with a host of illnesses.
About 200,000 Americans are thought to die from air pollution each year, but scientists previously couldn’t pinpoint the specific causes of death for almost half of those people.
The new research reviewed the medical records of veterans who died and compared them with the air pollution levels in their zip codes. They focused on PM 2.5, or inhalable particulate matter pollution that is 2.5 micrometers or smaller – a fraction of the width of a human hair.
They linked nine causes of death with the pollution: cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, dementia, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, lung cancer and pneumonia.
Three of those conditions were newly identified associations: chronic kidney disease, hypertension and dementia.
Miles Keogh, the executive director of a group that represents state and local air regulators, said: “We know people are harmed from exposure levels lower than the [current standards].