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Air pollution in the U.S. has decreased since about 1990, and a new study conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill now shows that this air quality improvement has brought substantial public health benefits. The study, published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, found that deaths related to air pollution were nearly halved between 1990 and 2010.
The team's analyses showed that deaths related to air pollution exposure in the U.S. decreased by about 47 percent, dropping from about 135,000 deaths in 1990 to 71,000 in 2010.
Improvements - Air - Quality - Health - US
These improvements in air quality and public health in the U.S. coincided with increased federal air quality regulations, and have taken place despite increases in population, energy and electricity use, and vehicle miles traveled between 1990 and 2010.
"We've invested a lot of resources as a society to clean up our air," said Jason West, professor of environmental sciences and engineering at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and study co-author. "This study demonstrates that those changes have had a real impact with fewer people dying each year due to exposure to outdoor air pollution."
Study - Yuqiang - Zhang - Postdoctoral - Researcher
The study was led by Yuqiang Zhang, a former postdoctoral researcher at the UNC Gillings School and at the Environmental Protection Agency and current research scientist at the Duke University Nicholas School of the Environment, and in collaboration with West and several scientists at the EPA.
This study supports results from a small number of other recent studies that also showed similar and marked reductions in air pollution-related deaths, but this study is unique in its use of a 21-year computer simulation and ability to...
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