July 24, 2019 - 12:51 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - More than 30,000 deaths in the United States in a single year may have been caused by air pollution, CNN reports citing a study published Tuesday, July 23.
Those deaths came even as almost every county in the United States remained within federal air quality standards. That suggests more stringent regulations are needed to protect human health, researchers say.
"I think the big conclusion is that lowering the limits of air pollution could delay in the US, all together, tens of thousands of deaths each year," said Majid Ezzati, the study's lead author and a professor of global environmental health at Imperial College London.
The research, published today in the journal PLOS Medicine, estimated the deaths for 2015, the most recent year for which data was available.
Researchers analyzed air quality trends from that year back to 1999 at over 750 monitoring stations across the continental United States. They looked specifically at particulate matter -- small, inhalable particles in the air that can enter the bloodstream.
The study compared that air quality data with publicly available information on deaths, looking for connections between pollution and cardiorespiratory diseases, which are thought to be triggered or worsened by particle-dense air.
While particulate matter has decreased over the past two decades, researchers still linked the pollution that remained to deaths across the country. The team also controlled for a variety of factors -- including age, education, poverty and smoking rates -- that could have explained why areas with more pollution saw worse health.
"Doing everything that you can reasonably do to rule out other explanations, you still ended up with a few tens of thousands of deaths," said Ezzati.