Eliminating Air Pollution Could Save More Than 53,000 Lives Per Year, Study Says

A new study shows that air pollution could be reduced or eliminated completely to prevent tens of thousands of premature deaths across the United States.

The study was published by researchers from University of Wisconsin (UW), in the journal GeoHealth Monday’s note states that by eliminating the air pollution caused by energy-related activities in America, more than 53,000 premature deaths could be avoidedAnnually. These deaths could be prevented by saving $608 million in benefits related to illnesses and deaths from air pollution.

The UW researchers came to this conclusion using data from the Environmental Protection Agency and health models to determine the benefits of eliminating harmful air-polluting particulates such as sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides.

“These [particles] get deep into the lungs and cause both respiratory and cardiac ailments,” said Jonathan Patz, a UW professor and one of the study’s authors. “They are pretty much the worst pollutant when it comes to mortality and hospitalization.”

While states could still potentially save lives if they acted alone, there would be greater benefits with higher levels of cooperation, due to how these types of particulates transport themselves over state lines, noted the study’s lead author, graduate student Nicholas Mailloux.

“If Wisconsin were to act alone, they get a certain amount of benefit,” Mailloux said. “But, if they act in concert with partners in the region or as part of a nationwide effort, you get more benefit.”

Researchers found that reducing the amount of air-based pollutants would have a profound impact on public health in the immediate term — and that it would also have long-term positive effects when it comes to transitioning away from unsustainable energy sources and addressing the climate crisis as a whole.

Similar conclusions have been reached by many other research studies. For example, a study from last year found that 74 million lives could be saved by the end of this centuryIf energy-based air pollution were eliminated by 2050.

People who are more vulnerable than others to these pollutants would benefit from a reduction in their levels. an EPA report stated.

“These groups include children, pregnant women, older adults, and individuals with pre-existing heart and lung disease,” the EPA said, as well as people “in low socioeconomic neighborhoods and communities [that] may be more vulnerable to air pollution.”