Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Link between ozone air pollution and premature death confirmed

24.04.2008
Short-term exposure to current levels of ozone in many areas is likely to contribute to premature deaths, says a new National Research Council report, which adds that the evidence is strong enough that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should include ozone-related mortality in health-benefit analyses related to future ozone standards. The committee that wrote the report was not asked to consider how evidence has been used by EPA to set ozone standards, including the new public health standard set by the agency last month.
Ozone, a key component of smog, can cause respiratory problems and other health effects. In addition, evidence of a relationship between short-term -- less than 24 hours -- exposure to ozone and mortality has been mounting, but interpretations of the evidence have differed, prompting EPA to request the Research Council report. In particular, the agency asked the committee to analyze the ozone-mortality link and assess methods for assigning a monetary value to lives saved for the health-benefits assessments.

Based on a review of recent research, the committee found that deaths related to ozone exposure are more likely among individuals with pre-existing diseases and other factors that could increase their susceptibility. However, premature deaths are not limited to people who are already within a few days of dying.

In addition, the committee examined research based on large population groups to find how changes in ozone air concentration could affect mortality, specifically to determine the existence of a threshold -- a concentration of ozone below which exposure poses no risk of death. The committee concluded that if a threshold exists, it is probably at a concentration below the current public health standard. As people have individual susceptibilities to ozone exposure, not everyone may experience an altered risk of death if ozone air concentration also changes. Further research should explore how personal thresholds may vary and the extent to which they depend on a person's frailty, the committee said.

The research on short-term exposure does not account for all ozone-related mortality, and the estimated risk of death may be greater than if based solely on these studies, the committee noted. To better understand all the possible connections between ozone and mortality, future research should address whether exposure for more than 24 hours and long-term exposure -- weeks to years -- are associated with mortality, including how ozone exposure could impact life expectancy. For example, deaths related to short-term exposure may not occur until several days afterward or may be associated with multiple short-term exposures.

Additionally, EPA should monitor ozone during the winter months when it is low and in communities with warmer and cooler winters to better understand seasonal and regional differences in risk. More research could also look at how other pollutants, such as airborne particulate matter, may affect ozone and mortality risk.

EPA, like other federal agencies, is required to carry out a cost-benefit analysis on mitigation actions that cost more than $100 million per year. EPA recently used the results of population studies to estimate the number of premature deaths that would be avoided by expected ozone reductions for different policy choices, and then assigned a monetary value to the avoided deaths by using the value of a statistical life (VSL).

The VSL is derived from studies of adults who indicate the "price" that they would be willing to pay -- i.e. what benefits or conveniences someone would be willing to forgo -- to change their risk of death in a given period by a small amount. The monetary value of the improved health outcome is based on the value the group places on receiving the health benefit; it is not the value selected by policymakers or experts.

EPA applies the VSL to all lives saved regardless of the age or health status. For instance, a person who is 80 years old in poor health is estimated to have the same VSL as a healthy 2-year-old. To determine if an approach that accounts for differences in remaining life expectancy could be supported scientifically, EPA asked the committee to examine the value of extending life. For example, EPA could calculate VSL to estimate the value of remaining life, so a 2-year-old would have a higher VSL than an 80-year-old. It is plausible that people with shorter remaining life expectancy would be willing to devote fewer resources to reducing their risk of premature death than those with longer remaining life expectancy. In contrast, if the condition causing the shortened life expectancy could be improved and an acceptable quality of life can be preserved or restored, people may put a high value on extending life, even if they have other health impairments or are quite elderly.

The committee concluded that EPA should not adjust the VSL because current evidence is not sufficient to determine how the value might change according to differences in remaining life expectancy and health status. However, the committee did not reject the idea that such adjustments may be appropriate in the future. To move toward determining a value of remaining life, alternative approaches should be explored in sensitivity analyses, and further research should be conducted to answer the questions raised about the validity of EPA's current approach.

The study was sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies. They are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter. The Research Council is the principal operating agency of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. A committee roster follows.

Jennifer Walsh | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.nas.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

nachricht International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers shoot for success with simulations of laser pulse-material interactions

29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling

29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation

29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>