Thousands of lives would be saved if U.S. counties met clean air standards: Study

LOS ANGELES, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of lives would be saved each year, and many more serious illnesses avoided, if U.S. counties met standards set by the American Thoracic Society (ATS) for the two most important air pollutants, according to a new report by the ATS and the Marron Institute of Urban Management at New York University.

If the the standards were met, approximately 6,270 lives would be saved, 15,300 instances of serious illness would be avoided and 12.7 million missed school and work days would be eliminated each year in the U.S., according to the new report, published online this week in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

The new report builds on the two organizations' 2016 "Health of the Air Report" by using the latest air quality data available. The latest report includes two new measures -- short-term PM2.5 and lung cancer incidence -- to give a clearer picture of how air pollution impacts health in the U.S.

The ATS-recommended standards for O3 and PM2.5 are based on scores of national and international epidemiological, animal and human-exposure studies, according to ATS.

Compared to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the ATS's standards for ozone (O3) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) are more rigorous.

"In addition to highlighting the benefits of strengthening the NAAQS, this report can help guide local and regional air quality management decisions," report co-author Gary Ewart, MHS, chief of the ATS advocacy and government relations program, was quoted as saying in a news release.

"The report's local health estimates can inform help public officials make difficult decisions regarding how aggressively to adopt new technologies or, alternatively, how aggressively to restrict high-polluting sources."

Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Phoenix, New York, Houston, Philadelphia are among the 10 metropolitan areas that would benefit the most from meeting the ATS O3 and PM2.5 standards.

[ Editor: WPY ]


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