February 26, 2020
Here’s further proof that air pollution ignores borders: In most states, about half of the premature deaths caused by poor air quality are linked to pollutants that blow in from other states, a new study found according to a February 12, 2020 New York Times report.
The study, published February 12th in Nature, investigated the sources and effects of two major pollutants that harm humans, ozone and fine airborne particles (PM 2.5), in the lower 48 states from 2005 to 2018. It found that in New York, nearly two-thirds of premature deaths are attributable to pollution from sources in other states. That makes the state the largest “net importer” of early deaths, to use the researchers’ term.
Ozone and fine particles are a result of fuel burning, so the analysis could have implications for policymakers looking for ways to reduce air pollution, and premature mortality, by regulating so-called cross-state emissions. So far only emissions from electric power generation are regulated in this way, but the study looked at six other sources of pollutants, including other industries, road transportation, aviation and commercial and residential sources like heating for homes and buildings.
The study found that the states that emitted pollution that caused the most early deaths in other states were in the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest. Ozone and fine particles emitted in Wyoming and North Dakota, for example, lead to few deaths per capita in those states. But the pollution is carried eastward by the prevailing winds, leading to more deaths elsewhere.
The analysis also found a decline in cross-state deaths linked to electricity generation since 2005, an indication that pollution regulations, like the Environmental Protection Agency’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, are working. The rule, established in 2011, requires about 27 states, mostly in the eastern half of the country, to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which lead to formation of ozone and fine particles.
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.
What this means to you
In most states, about half of the premature deaths caused by poor air quality (ozone and PM 2.5) are linked to pollutants that blow in from other states according to a new study.
MIRATECH can help
Contact MIRATECH for stationary engine emission control of NOx, CO, VOCs and Particulate Matter.