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Human Health At Risk From Long-Term Exposure To Air Pollution Below Current Air Quality Standards: Study

Researchers found evidence of higher death rates amongst people who had been exposed to more air pollution even though the levels were allowed under current official standards

Human Health At Risk From Long-Term Exposure To Air Pollution Below Current Air Quality Standards: Study
Highlights
  • Outdoor air pollution is associated with mortality: Study
  • Air pollution concentrations fallen largely in Europe since 1990s: Study
  • The findings of the study were published online in 'The BMJ'

London: A new study has suggested that long-term exposure to air pollution appears to still be linked to higher mortality despite the existence of air quality standards that restrict levels of pollution. The findings of the study were published online in ‘The BMJ’. Researchers found evidence of higher death rates amongst people who had been exposed to more air pollution even though the levels were allowed under current official standards.

Also Read: Committed To Ensure Clean Air And Blue Skies To All In Country: Environment Minister

Previous studies have found an association between long term exposure to outdoor air pollution such as those in the form of fine particles in the air (known as particulate matter or PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and poor health or death. Air pollution concentrations have fallen substantially in Europe since the 1990s, but it is unclear whether there still is a link between pollution and ill health or death at concentrations of pollution that are below current permitted limits.

Therefore, an international team of researchers led by the Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences at Utrecht University in the Netherlands set out to investigate if there was an association between low levels of air pollution concentrations and natural and cause-specific deaths.

Low-level air pollution was defined as concentrations below current limit values as set by the European Union, US Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organisation (WHO) air quality guidelines. The researchers analysed data on eight groups of people within six European countries – Sweden, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria – totalling 325,367 adults collectively.

Their study, known as the Effects of Low-Level Air Pollution: A Study in Europe (ELAPSE) recruited participants in the 1990s or 2000s. Of the 325,367 participants who were followed up over an almost 20-year period, around 14.5 per cent (47,131 people) died during the study period.

Analysis of the results showed that people who had higher exposure to particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide, and black carbon were more likely to die. An increase of 5 ug/m3 (a concentration measure of particulate matter) in PM2.5 was associated with a 13 per cent increase in natural deaths while the corresponding figure for a 10 ug/m3 increase in nitrogen dioxide was 8.6 per cent. Associations with PM2.5 and nitrogen dioxide were largely independent of each other.

Moreover, associations with PM2.5, nitrogen dioxide, and black carbon remained significant at low to very low concentrations. For people who were exposed to pollution levels below the US standard of 12 ug/m3, an increase of 5 ug/m3 in PM2.5 was associated with a 29.6 per cent increase in natural deaths. People exposed to nitrogen dioxide at less than half the current EU standard of 40 ug/m3, a 10 ug/m3 increase in nitrogen dioxide was associated with a 9.9 per cent increase in natural deaths. This is an observational study, and as such, can’t establish cause.

The study also has some limitations, say the authors, such as the fact that it focused on exposure in 2010 which was towards the end of the follow-up period for most participants and, given the downward trend in air pollution, this measure might not exactly reflect the concentrations experienced during follow-up. However, this was a large study from multiple European groups of people with the detailed information provided.

Our study contributes to the evidence that outdoor air pollution is associated with mortality even at levels below the current European and North American standards and WHO guideline values. These findings are therefore an important contribution to the debate about the revision of air quality limits, guidelines and standards, and future assessments by the Global Burden of Disease (study), the authors said.

Also Read: Air Pollution Could Cut Life Expectancy By 9 Years In North India: US Study

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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World

22,95,44,435Cases
19,20,52,504Active
3,27,83,741Recovered
47,08,190Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 22,95,44,435 and 47,08,190 have died; 19,20,52,504 are active cases and 3,27,83,741 have recovered as on September 22, 2021 at 3:49 am.

India

3,35,31,498 26,964Cases
3,01,9897,586Active
3,27,83,741 34,167Recovered
4,45,768 383Deaths
In India, there are 3,35,31,498 confirmed cases including 4,45,768 deaths. The number of active cases is 3,01,989 and 3,27,83,741 have recovered as on September 22, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,27,629 3,131

44,269 960

63,44,744 4,021

1,38,616 70

Kerala

45,39,926 15,768

1,61,765 5,813

43,54,264 21,367

23,897 214

Karnataka

29,69,361 818

13,769 617

29,17,944 1,414

37,648 21

Tamil Nadu

26,48,688 1,647

16,993 9

25,96,316 1,619

35,379 19

Andhra Pradesh

20,40,708 1,179

13,905 483

20,12,714 1,651

14,089 11

Uttar Pradesh

17,09,693 13

194 0

16,86,612 13

22,887

West Bengal

15,62,710 537

7,741 69

15,36,291 592

18,678 14

Delhi

14,38,556 39

400 21

14,13,071 18

25,085

Odisha

10,21,216 462

4,844 103

10,08,226 560

8,146 5

Chhattisgarh

10,05,120 26

297 0

9,91,260 26

13,563

Rajasthan

9,54,275 12

99 8

9,45,222 4

8,954

Gujarat

8,25,751 14

133 0

8,15,536 14

10,082

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,410 8

90 6

7,81,803 14

10,517

Haryana

7,70,754 8

328 12

7,60,618 20

9,808

Bihar

7,25,907 6

60 9

7,16,188 15

9,659

Telangana

6,63,906 244

4,938 53

6,55,061 296

3,907 1

Punjab

6,01,359 36

304 3

5,84,554 37

16,501 2

Assam

5,98,864 441

5,081 97

5,87,970 338

5,813 6

Jharkhand

3,48,139 14

65 10

3,42,941 4

5,133

Uttarakhand

3,43,405 12

249 18

3,35,765 29

7,391 1

Jammu And Kashmir

3,28,214 145

1,450 11

3,22,345 154

4,419 2

Himachal Pradesh

2,17,403 263

1,715 99

2,12,033 162

3,655 2

Goa

1,75,690 107

886 76

1,71,507 29

3,297 2

Puducherry

1,25,618 101

922 55

1,22,864 46

1,832

Manipur

1,18,870 197

2,174 9

1,14,861 203

1,835 3

Tripura

83,956 51

353 7

82,794 44

809

Mizoram

82,815 1,355

15,363 223

67,184 1,127

268 5

Meghalaya

79,817 150

1,878 18

76,558 167

1,381 1

Chandigarh

65,195 7

44 3

64,333 4

818

Arunachal Pradesh

54,190 64

413 3

53,504 60

273 1

Sikkim

31,014 43

627 27

30,007 70

380

Nagaland

30,959 52

470 3

29,832 46

657 3

Ladakh

20,743 6

144 6

20,392

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,670

0 0

10,666

4

Lakshadweep

10,360 1

9 1

10,300

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,607 7

17 4

7,461 3

129

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