Even Low Levels of Industrial Pollution Shortens Life Span of Older People

Older people are living shorter life span due to airborne contaminants produced by ‘dirty diesel’ pollution from traffic, wildfires, and other industries.

Researchers argue in an in-depth study released in Health Effects Institute (HEI), that even low levels of pollution have adverse health effects in senior citizens. The first-of-its-kind study tracked some 68.5 million people over four years, and extended to people living in rural areas and towns with little industry.

MarketWatch reported the study’s findings which suggest that if the federal rules for allowable emissions become slightly more stringent, some 143,000 deaths could have been prevented over the course of ten years.

Air pollution as significant contributor to the global diseases


A commuter bus running on diesel fuel

(Photo : Photo credit: ROMEO GACAD/AFP via Getty Images)
A commuter bus running on diesel fuel emits thick trail of pollutants in Jakarta on December 7, 2009. Current pledges from rich and developing nations for cutting carbon pollution will stoke potentially catastrophic warming by century’s end, according to a study released before the opening of historic UN climate talks in Copenhagen. The landmark 192-nation conference will draw up a battle plan against global warming.

According to HEI’s recent Global Burden of Disease – Major Air Pollution Sources report, a major source of fine-particle soot comes from the burning of fossil fuels, accounting for more than 1 million deaths globally.

The 2021 Research Report shows that even though air pollution concentrations have declined over the past few decades, several studies in the past had recorded association of relatively low concentrations of these particles to great risk of mortality and long-term exposures. In addition, health problems linked to air pollution tends to concentrate on the youngest and oldest, and thus most vulnerable, citizens.

Meanwhile, elderlies living downwind of fracking sites also had an increased risk of premature death.

“There is an urgent need to understand the causal link between living near or downwind of [unconventional oil and gas development] and adverse health effects,” said study co-author Francesca Dominici in US News. The researchers analyzed data on more than 15 million Medicare beneficiaries who lived in all major U.S. fracking exploration regions between 2001 and 2015.

Also read: Africa’s ‘Killer Lake’ Kivu Hides a Deadly Poison Cloud Gas That May Erupt, Risk Millions

Risk of ‘Death by Dirty Diesel’


A non-profit group named Clean Air Task Force (CATF) issued a U.S.-focused digital tool tracking deaths and economic impact linked to diesel fuel. The group calls it “Death by Dirty Diesel”.

“Diesel vehicle emissions are wreaking havoc on communities across the United States. This interactive map explores the negative health impacts of diesel emissions by U.S. state, county, and metropolitan area, with data on the deaths from diesel, as well other health and economic risks associated with diesel pollution,” the task force said on the website.

Aside from cars, Diesel powers commercial trucks over the nation’s roads and impacts economic areas torn up decades ago for major streets, highways and elevated interstates, to a greater degree.

According to national data, there were more than 8,000 deaths, 3,700 heart attacks, hundreds of thousands of other respiratory ailments, and nearly $1 trillion in economic damages projected for 2023 from diesel alone.

Moreover, other recent studies also linked fine-particle pollution to higher rates of death from COVID-19, particularly In Black and other communities of color living near highways, power plants and other industrial facilities.

Also read: Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’ Linked to Cancer Found in Water-Resistant Clothing

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