WEDNESDAY, July 24, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Recent reductions in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) have resulted in lower mortality in most counties in the United States, according to a study published online July 23 in PLOS Medicine.

James E. Bennett, Ph.D., from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, and colleagues estimated mortality and life expectancy due to current PM2.5 pollution and the benefits of reductions since 1999.

The researchers found that PM2.5 pollution in excess of the lowest observed concentration (2.8 µg/m³) was responsible for an estimated 15,612 and 14,757 deaths in women and men, respectively. These deaths would have lowered national life expectancy by an estimated 0.15 and 0.13 years for women and men, respectively. The area around Los Angeles and some southern states, including Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Alabama, had the largest life expectancy loss due to PM2.5. Life expectancy loss was larger in counties with lower income and higher poverty rates compared with wealthier counties at any PM2.5 concentration. Lower mortality has been seen with reductions in PM2.5 since 1999, except for in 14 counties that demonstrated slight increases in PM2.5.

“Our results suggest that further lowering PM2.5 pollution is likely to benefit the health of the entire U.S. population, and lower health inequalities,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.

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