Nav: Home

Exposure to air pollutants from power plants varies by race, income and geography

November 20, 2019

Many people take electricity for granted -- the power to turn on light with the flip of a switch, or keep food from spoiling with refrigeration. But generating electricity from fossil fuels exacts a toll on health and the environment. Scientists estimate that these power plant emissions cause tens of thousands of premature deaths in the U.S. each year. Now, researchers report in ACS' Environmental Science & Technology that pollutant exposure varies with certain demographic factors.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, fine particulate matter -- also known as PM2.5 -- is the largest environmental health risk in the U.S. Scientists have linked these air pollutants to increased death rates from cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. Power plants, particularly coal-fired ones, emit PM2.5 directly, as well as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that can react with ammonia in the atmosphere to form additional PM2.5. Julian Marshall and colleagues wondered if certain demographic groups showed disparities in exposure to the harmful air pollutants.

To find out, the researchers used an air quality model to predict PM2.5 concentrations in different geographical areas across the U.S in 2014. They correlated the air quality data with location-specific information on race, income and mortality. The team estimated that in 2014, about 16,700 people in the U.S. died prematurely because of power plant emissions. At the national level, African Americans had the highest mortality rates from power-plant PM2.5 (6.6 deaths per 100,000 people), followed by white non-Latinos (5.9 deaths per 100,000 people), with lower rates for Asian Americans, Native Americans and Latinos. However, exposures for each racial/ethnic group varied by state. Estimated mortality rates from PM2.5 were higher for lower-income than higher-income households, but the differences by race were larger than those by income. Because wind can carry PM2.5 long distances from the source, health risks in many states could be attributed to out-of-state emissions. The researchers say that they hope these findings will help communities, scientists and policymakers better understand and address air pollution exposures and their disparities.
-end-
The authors acknowledge funding from the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and the Center for Air, Climate, and Energy Solutions.

The paper's abstract will be available on November 20 at 8 a.m. Eastern time here: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.9b02527

The researchers have created a video about their work, which can be viewed here.

The American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS is a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

To automatically receive news releases from the American Chemical Society, contact newsroom@acs.org.

Follow us: Twitter | Facebook

American Chemical Society

Related Mortality Articles:

New analysis shows hydroxychloroquine does not lower mortality in COVID-19 patients, and is associated with increased mortality when combined with the antibiotic azithromycin
A new meta-analysis of published studies into the drug hydroxychloroquine shows that it does not lower mortality in COVID-19 patients, and using it combined with the antibiotic azithromycin is associated with a 27% increased mortality.
Hydroxychloroquine reduces in-hospital COVID-19 mortality
An Italian observational study contributes to the ongoing debate regarding the use of hydroxychloroquine in the current pandemic.
What's the best way to estimate and track COVID-19 mortality?
When used correctly, the symptomatic case fatality ratio (sCFR) and the infection fatality ratio (IFR) are better measures by which to monitor COVID-19 epidemics than the commonly reported case fatality ratio (CFR), according to a new study published this week in PLOS Medicine by Anthony Hauser of the University of Bern, Switzerland, and colleagues.
COVID-19: Bacteriophage could decrease mortality
Bacteriophage can reduce bacterial growth in the lungs, limiting fluid build-up.
COPD and smoking associated with higher COVID-19 mortality
Current smokers and people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have an increased risk of severe complications and higher mortality with COVID-19 infection, according to a new study published May 11, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Jaber Alqahtani of University College London, UK, and colleagues.
Highest mortality risks for poor and unemployed
Large dataset shows that income, work status and education have a clear influence on mortality in Germany.
Addressing causes of mortality in Zambia
Despite the fact that people in sub-Saharan Africa are now living longer than they did two decades ago, their average life expectancy remains below that of the rest of the world population.
Examining the link between caste and under-five mortality in India
In India, children that belong to disadvantaged castes face a much higher likelihood of not living past their fifth birthday than their counterparts in non-deprived castes.
Mortality rates rising for Gens X and Y too
Declining life expectancies in the US include Gen X and Y Americans, in addition to the older Baby Boomers.
Trust in others predicts mortality in the United States
Do you trust other people? It may prolong your life.
More Mortality News and Mortality Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: IRL Online
Original broadcast date: March 20, 2020. Our online lives are now entirely interwoven with our real lives. But the laws that govern real life don't apply online. This hour, TED speakers explore rules to navigate this vast virtual space.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#573 Penis. That's It. That's the title.
This episode is about penises. That was your content warning. Penises. Where they came from. Why they're useful. And the many, many wild things that animals do with them. Come for the world's oldest penis, stay for the creature that ejaculates 80 percent of its bodyweight. Host Bethany Brookshire talks with Emily Willingham about her new book, "Phallacy: Life Lessons from the Animal Penis".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Falling
There are so many ways to fall–in love, asleep, even flat on your face. This hour, Radiolab dives into stories of great falls.  We jump into a black hole, take a trip over Niagara Falls, upend some myths about falling cats, and plunge into our favorite songs about falling. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.