What’s the Latest Development?
Researchers at MIT have published new and sobering data on the effects of air pollution in the United States, concluding that approximately 200,000 deaths per year are caused by the combination of electric power generation, industry, commercial and residential sources, road transportation, marine transportation, and rail transportation. “Emissions from road transportation are the most significant contributor, causing 53,000 premature deaths, followed closely by power generation, with 52,000.” In a state-by-state analysis, it was found that California suffers the most health impacts attributed to air pollution, mostly a result of road transportation.
What’s the Big Idea?
Researchers were surprised to learn that pollution created by road transportation proved deadlier than power generation, which produces more highly toxic by-products as a result of burning coal. “One explanation may be that vehicles tend to travel in populated areas, increasing large populations’ pollution exposure, whereas power plants are generally located far from most populations and their emissions are deposited at a higher altitude.” According to Steven Barrett, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, “a person who dies from an air pollution-related cause typically dies about a decade earlier than he or she otherwise might have.”
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