Researchers at the University of Washington, Columbia University, and the University of Buffalo recently completed a study designed to determine the long term effects on human health of four atmospheric pollutants that result from burning fossil fuels — fine particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, black carbon, and ozone. The results of their study have now been published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study spanned 18 years and involved more than 7,000 people. It included a detailed examination of the air pollution encountered between 2000 and 2018 in six metropolitan regions across the U.S. — Chicago, Winston-Salem, N.C., Baltimore, Los Angeles, St. Paul, Minnesota, and New York. The participants were drawn from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) Air and Lung studies, according to a University of Washington blog post.
“We were surprised to see how strong air pollution’s impact was on the progression of emphysema on lung scans, in the same league as the effects of cigarette smoking, which is by far the best-known cause of emphysema,” said the study’s senior co-author, Dr. Joel Kaufman, UW professor of environmental and occupational health sciences and epidemiology in the School of Public Health.
“Rates of chronic lung disease in this country are going up and increasingly it is recognized that this disease occurs in nonsmokers,” said Kaufman, also a professor of internal medicine and a physician at UW School of Medicine. “We really need to understand what’s causing chronic lung disease, and it appears that air pollution exposures that are common and hard to avoid might be a major contributor.”
Ozone is created when the exhaust products created by burning fossil fuels react with ultraviolet light, a component of sunshine. While most levels of air pollution are in decline due to successful efforts to reduce them, ozone has been increasing, the study found.
Purely from a layman's perspective observing people at work, I've noticed a lot more respiratory type illnesses. Where I used to mainly get seasonal allergies during summer, I'm now sitting with allergies and sinus congestion throughout the year including winter. I also heard this morning on the radio a scientist saying that the Amazon rain forest fires have way less impact on the air pollution the burning of fossil fuels, although everyone is crying out about the fires. WE humans tend to lose perspective on what really makes the difference (we just don't see fire and flames coming out of every car's exhaust, and diesel engines have cleverly masked the smoke so that we do not see it any longer). Here’s one way to look at the situation. Imagine every gasoline or diesel powered vehicle you see today is emitting poison darts aimed straight at the lungs of you and your children.
#fossilfuel Study Shows Burning Fossil Fuels Is Killing Us -- Are You OK With That?
A study of 6 urban areas in the US conducted over 18 years finds pollutants from burning fossil fuels lead to higher levels of lung disease and early death. Does that mean we should do something about the problem?