TUESDAY, Feb. 11, 2020 (HealthDay News) — An increase in ozone is associated with short-term mortality risks, according to a study published online Feb. 10 in The BMJ.

Ana M. Vicedo-Cabrera, Ph.D., from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and colleagues examined short-term mortality risks and excess mortality associated with exposure to ozone. A total of 45,165,171 deaths in 406 cities in 20 countries were analyzed between 1985 and 2015.

The researchers found that a 10-µg/m³ increase in ozone during the current and previous day correlated with an overall relative risk for mortality of 1.0018 on average. There was heterogeneity across countries. Estimates varied from greater than 1.0020 in the United Kingdom, South Africa, Estonia, and Canada, to less than 1.0008 in Mexico and Spain. Short-term mortality was 0.26 percent in association with exposure to ozone higher than maximum background levels (70 µg/m³); this percentage corresponded with 8,203 annual excess deaths. When restricting to days above the World Health Organization guideline (100 µg/m³), the excess remained at 0.20 percent, corresponding to 6,262 annual excess deaths. Excess mortality was 0.14, 0.09, and 0.05 percent, respectively, above more lenient thresholds or air quality standards in Europe, America, and China.

“These findings have important implications for the design of future public health actions; particularly, for example, in relation to the implementation of mitigation strategies to reduce the impacts of climate change,” the authors write.

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