Number of Estimated Smog Deaths Doubled
Exposure to fine particulate matter might increase the risk of heart attacks, lung cancer and other illnesses by two to three times more than previously thought, according to a University of Southern California study, the Los Angeles Times reports.
In the study, researchers examined soot measurements and deaths in hundreds of California neighborhoods. Past studies used data from citywide annual mortality averages.
According to the study:
- The largest increased risks were found in San Bernardino and Riverside counties;
- The risk of fatal heart attacks association with soot was as much as 39% higher than previous estimates in the most polluted areas;
- The number of deaths from diabetes in the smoggiest areas was double the number in previous estimates; and
- The risk of death increases by 11% to 17% with each additional 10 micrograms of fine particulate matter per cubic meter of air, compared with a 6% increase found in a 2002 study.
The California Air Resources Board is considering incorporating the new data in its statewide death estimates, which currently attribute 9,000 deaths statewide to air pollution. The new data could double or triple that number.
The board on Thursday said the USC study and two other recent studies examining death rates and air pollution should undergo independent review to determine the best method for applying the information to statewide data. The review could be completed by the end of the summer (Wilson, Los Angeles Times, 3/25).