Reducing Mortality and Morbidity

Photo: Earth in the universe

Adhering to the current ozon
standard would result in a signifi-
cant reduction in morbidity and
mortality; ©
Anton Balazh

"Abundant evidence links exposure to ozone with adverse health effects, including impaired pulmonary function, asthma exacerbations, increased hospital and emergency room visits, and increased mortality, yet the current National Ambient Air Quality Standard of 75 ppb is often exceeded," said Doctor Jesse Berman of John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Our study shows that adhering to the current standard would result in a significant reduction in morbidity and mortality and, furthermore, that applying even more stringent ozone standards would result in even greater reductions."

Using national ozone monitoring data for 2005-07 and concentration-response data obtained or derived from the epidemiological literature, the authors applied health impact assessment methodology using the Environmental Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program (BenMAP) to estimate the numbers of deaths and other adverse health outcomes that would have been avoided during this time period if the current eight-hour average ozone standard (75 ppb) or lower standards had been met.

The researchers estimated that if the current ozone standard of 75ppb had been met, 1,410 to 2,480 ozone-related premature deaths would have been avoided during the study period. At a lower standard of 70ppb, 2,450 to 4,130 deaths would have been avoided, and at a standard of 60 ppb, 5,210 to 7.990 deaths would have been avoided. At the 75 ppb standard, acute respiratory symptoms would have been reduced by three million cases and school-loss days by one million cases annually. Even greater avoided mortalities and morbidities would have been achieved at 70 ppb and 60 ppb standards.

"The EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee has recommended adoption of an ozone standard in the 60 to 70 ppb range," said Berman. "Our analysis shows that implementing such a lower standard would result in substantial public health benefits."; Source: American Thoracic Society