Calculating Air Pollution’s Death Toll, Across State Lines

As a result of the drop in early deaths linked to power generation and road transportation, the overall effect of cross-state pollution has declined, the study said. But at the same time, residential and commercial emissions are now the leading cause of cross-state early deaths, a finding that came as a surprise to the researchers.

“They may not have seemed so important 10 or 20 years ago, but these commercial and residential emissions now look really important, in big part because progress has been made in other sectors,” Dr. Barrett said. “Future research and future policy are going to have to bear down on these emissions and start controlling them,” he said.

The study did not look at pollution from wildfires, which increasingly contribute to poor air quality in the United States. “They are currently less important for the long-term averages that affect human health the most,” Dr. Barrett said. “That might change in the future if wildfires become more common under a changing climate.”

Michael Brauer, an environmental health specialist at the University of British Columbia in Canada who was not involved in the study, said the findings show that work needs to be done to reduce pollution from smaller sources like commercial buildings and homes.

Decreases in early deaths from pollution from larger sources like power plants, he said, are “a result of the effectiveness of federal regulations.”

Read More At The New York Times

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