Study: Stricter Air Standards Could Save Thousands of Lives

Thousands of lives could be spared each year in California and the nation if only federal air quality standards were tighter, a new study has concluded. The research, which was published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society Wednesday, examined ozone and fine particular matter across the U.S. for the years 2011 to 2013.

According to the researchers, poor air quality contributes to 1,341 deaths and 3,255 illnesses in the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale area each year, making Los Angeles’ air quality the deadliest in the nation. For Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario (No. 2) those figures were 808 and 1,416.

Nationally, there were an estimated 9,320 deaths annually. Since Southern California suffers worst from poor air quality, it also has the most to gain, the researchers concluded. They estimate that 3,632 deaths could be spared in California with stricter standards.

Over the past three decades, studies have consistently shown an improvement in the state’s air quality, but there have also been some setbacks in recent years. Southern California is currently experiencing a smog bout, with increased bad air days and ozone levels not seen since 2009.

Read the study in its entirety here.

The researchers also set up a search-by-zip code function, so viewers can see air quality for each particular area.

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