High levels of microscopic, soot-like particles are increasing the risk of premature death

High levels of microscopic, soot-like particles are increasing the risk of premature death for millions of people, including those with heart or lung disease, according to the American Lung Association State of the Air: 2004 report released today. The report, which provides county-by-county grades of ozone pollution and the first-ever county-by-county analysis of particle pollution, can be found by visiting http://lungusa.kintera.org/sota04pdf.

"Americans need to know about unhealthy air pollution in their communities," said John L. Kirkwood, American Lung Association President and Chief Executive Officer. "The threat may be invisible to the human eye, but it is real – and it can kill. This is why the American Lung Association is fighting hard to protect tools in the Clean Air Act that can clean up the pollution – a tool that the Administration has taken steps to roll back," said Kirkwood.

For the first time, the American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report uses data from a new, national air-quality surveillance network to go beyond its traditional analysis of smog, or ozone air pollution, to include particle pollution. Produced by power plant emissions, diesel exhaust and wood burning, among other sources, particle pollution can be dangerous when it reaches unhealthy levels over a few hours or a few days, as well as with constant daily exposure over a long period of time. The complex and dangerous health effects of particle pollution were confirmed in a National Research Council report released in March 2004.

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