Air Pollution Kills 200,000 Annually

Cars the largest source

    Photo: snowpeak/Wikimedia

Air pollution causes 200,000 early deaths each year, a newly released study from MIT's Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment has found. The group tracked emissions from sources like vehicle tailpipes, smokestacks, marine and rail operations, and commercial heating throughout the U.S.

Emissions from road transportation were the most significant contributor due to their proximity to populated areas, leading to 53,000 premature deaths. After analyzing the data state-by-state, researchers found California suffers the worst health impacts. Among cities, the emissions-related mortality rate in Baltimore was the highest, with 130 out of 100,000 residents likely to die in a given year due to exposure.

Premature deaths from residential pollution peaked along the East and West coasts while industrial pollution peaked in the Midwest and around Philadelphia, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and along the Gulf Coast due to oil refineries.

“In the past five to 10 years, the evidence linking air-pollution exposure to risk of early death has really solidified and gained scientific and political traction,” Steven Barrett, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, said in a press release. “There’s a realization that air pollution is a major problem in any city, and there’s a desire to do something about it.”

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