Air Pollution Associated With 9 Causes of Death, Including Cancer

Air pollution is linked to nine specific causes of death, including lung cancer, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.

Researchers assessed a cohort of 4,522,160 U.S. veterans (93.8% were male; median age, 64.1 years) who were followed between 2006 and 2016. They used an ensemble model to identify and characterize morphology of the association between ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and causes of death. The burden of death was estimate based on associated PM2.5 exposure in the contiguous United States and risk functions to county-level PM2.5 estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Air pollution linked to these causes of death …

Air pollution was associated with excess burden for the following nine conditions:

  1. Cardiovascular disease
  2. Cerebrovascular disease
  3. Chronic kidney disease
  4. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  5. Dementia
  6. Type 2 diabetes
  7. Hypertension
  8. Lung cancer
  9. Pneumonia

Estimated burden of death due to non-accidental causes was 197,905.1 deaths.

Black individuals were more likely to experience these causes of death than other races. Individuals living in counties with lower socioeconomic status were also more likely to experiences air pollution-related deaths. In addition, 99% of the burden of death due to non-accidental causes was associated with PM2.5 levels below standards set by the EPA, according to the study.

“Effort toward cleaner air might reduce the burden of PM2.5-associated deaths,” the authors concluded.