Study finds that environmental regulation has helped cut deaths caused by air pollution in half.

Photo by Nikola Jovanovic on Unsplash

Although some of the reports we have been covering recently in our weekly Stealth Power Blog have been a little worrisome, there is some good news on the horizon. The Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Journal recently published a study which proved that environmental regulation has helped cut U.S. deaths from air pollution in half.

The study focused on deaths related to particulate matter between 1990 and 2010 and found these types of deaths were reduced by more than 50% nationwide during that time frame. “Particulate matter-related deaths – like lung cancer and stroke- dropped by 54 percent from 123,700 in 1990 to 58,600 in 2010,” reported Earther in their coverage of the story.

The study’s authors explained that these results could be attributed to environmental regulation such as the Clean Air Act and federal/state legislation on vehicle emissions. “We’ve invested a lot of resources as a society to clean up our air,” said Jason West, study co-author and professor of environmental sciences and engineering at the University of North Carolina, in a press release.”This study demonstrates that those changes have had a real impact with fewer people dying each year due to exposure to outdoor air pollution.”

Not all regions of the country experienced the same type of air quality improvements. According to Earther‘s article, “New York, Texas, and Ohio saw the highest death rates due to particulate matter in 2010.” However, the study found that even these states still experienced a drop in air quality-related deaths.

While the Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Journal report did not observe air quality beyond 2010, its authors believe these health benefits have continued into 2010-2018. Yuqiang Zhang, the lead author of the study and a former EPA employee, stated, “These health improvements likely have continued beyond 2010 as we observe that air pollutant concentrations have continued to decrease.”

This is great news to supporters of environmental regulation. With continued federal and state air quality legislation, deaths and other health problems caused by poor air quality can continue to decrease. This will lead to a healthier environment and a longer life expectancy for all.