Even low levels of soot can be deadly to older people, research finds

A “first of its kind” air pollution study found that even low levels of soot can be deadly. We at UPHE often say there’s no safe level of air pollution. 

”Researchers at the Health Effects Institute, a group that is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency as well as automakers and fossil fuel companies, examined health data from 68.5 million Medicare recipients across the United States. They found that if the federal rules for allowable levels of fine soot had been slightly lower, as many as 143,000 deaths could have been prevented over the course of a decade” a New York Times article on the study writes. 

“The new study is the first in the United States to document deadly effects of the particulate matter known as PM 2.5 (because its width is 2.5 microns or less) on people who live in rural areas and towns with little industry.”

We advocate for people to wear N95 masks that filter out PM 2.5 and to use HEPA-approved air filters to reduce exposure to dangerous particles in the air. That’s not enough, however. We need meaningful, progressive change that tightens restrictions on emissions, and protects public health. Hopefully this study, that clearly defines the issue as life or death, serves as a wake-up call to legislators and public agencies that they need to prioritize human life over private industry.

Read the NY Times article on the study here.

Wildfire smoke encompassing Salt Lake City Photo by: Nadia Walker