What exactly is a safe level of air pollution? If it is not forming a thick smog, am I alright? Is it as bad as secondhand smoke? New research from Harvard University experts in environmental health suggests that levels of particulate matter far below EPA regulations are still deadly.
In findings published in the Environmental Health Perspectives Journal, the researchers used aerosol data to divide New England up into 1km by 1km squares and provide pollution data for each. They then looked at Medicare mortality data for those older than 65 years old from the years 2003-2008, and combined that data with pollution estimates on a day by day basis. There were few places that would be considered “air pollution hotspots” in New England, in fact, only in rare cases did any area exceed the 35 ug/m3 daily limit.
They found that for every 10 ug/m3 increase in PM2.5 over a 2 day period, mortality rates increased by over 2%! That means that even a 2 day period of moderately increased air pollution could change the life outcome of someone who has been alive for 65 years or more. Over the course of a year, they found that every 10 ug/m3 increase in PM2.5 was associated with an over 7% increase in mortality.
What does it all mean? First off, the EPA does not write particulate matter regulations based on what is “healthy”. They do it based on what they think is reasonable! This means that just because your area meets EPA regulations does not mean that it is “safe” from air pollution. Particulate matter is not like carbon monoxide, another airborne, invisible and odorless gas. Carbon monoxide is mainly a worry over short, intense episodes of exposure, while particulate matter causes issues over a long period of time even at low exposure levels.
We want to help you take action on reducing these PM2.5 levels so loved ones can live longer! Check it out at joinvivergy.com.
And check out the study here.
–The Vivergy Team