Air pollution standards deemed safe by the US government can still shorten and even be fatal to senior citizens, a recent study shows. In fact, hundreds of elderly Americans may die prematurely each year due to the effects of dirty air.
Air Pollution: Study Protocol
These findings come from a study done by the Harvard Data Science Initiative. A computer prediction analysis correlated fine particle and ozone pollution levels between 2000 and 2012 with death rates. Approximately 93 percent of all Americans who were covered by Medicare at the time, were studied.
Air Pollution: Study Results
The study found a direct association, for every tiny incremental increase in ozone levels, the daily death rate bumped up between roughly 0.5 and 1 percent. The mortality rate increases linearly as air pollution increases. Any level of air pollution, no matter how low, is harmful to human health.
Some groups of seniors are even more vulnerable to such air pollution exposure, with low-income seniors facing a three times higher risk compared to more affluent seniors.
In addition, women showed a 25 percent greater premature death risk following pollution and ozone exposure compared with men. The same was true of nonwhite Americans, relative to their white peers.
During the study period, 22 million people covered by the investigation died.
What’s more, over the course of the study, the rise in ozone pollution directly correlated to the premature deaths of 7100 hundred senior citizens.