Major new study shows tiny increases in fine particulate matter increase deaths, especially from heart disease

A very important study of over 500,000 people in six states conclusively shows that even a small increase in fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) in a neighborhood can and does kill people.  The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

For example, a miniscule increase of just 10 micrograms of PM2.5 per cubic meter of air in a neighborhood compared to other areas increased the overall death rate by 3 percent, and the death rate from heart disease by 10 percent.

In urban areas, sources of particulate matter include fires, power plants and other industry, and traffic related air pollution, particularly from diesel exhaust. 

Lead researcher Dr. George D. Thurston pointed out the dangers of particulate matter, and emphasized the need for policy changes to regulate it:

“Our data add to a growing body of evidence that particulate matter is really harmful to health, increasing overall mortality, mostly deaths from cardiovascular disease, as well as deaths from respiratory disease in nonsmokers,” 

“We need to better inform policymakers about the types and sources of particulate pollution so they know where to focus regulations.” 

To learn more about the study, you can read an AAAS article about it, or review the study report below.

Link between air pollution, increased deaths and increased deaths from heart disease affirmed, American Association for the Advancement of Science.

For background information, please visit the Diesel Exhaust collection in the MFN library.