More than 50,000 premature deaths are recorded every year as a result of exhaust from cars and lorries, a US study has claimed.
According to researchers at the MIT Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment, emissions from road transportation accounted for the highest proportion of deaths linked to combustion emissions. Electric car owners shouldn't be too smug about the news, however, as the study also suggests emissions from electric power generation accounts for 52,000 premature deaths every year.
Industrial emissions account for 41,000 early deaths, while changes in ozone concentrations claims around 2,000 lives annually.
Researchers carried out a state-by-state analysis and found California suffers the worst health impacts from air pollution, with about 21,000 early deaths per year, mostly due to road transportation and commercial and residential emissions from heating and cooking.
The study also looked at 5,695 cities and found the highest emissions-related mortality rate in Baltimore. 130 out of every 100,000 residents in the Maryland city were likely to die annually due to long-term exposure to air pollution.
Unsurprisingly, air pollution can take a healthy chunk off a person's life expectancy. Steven Barrett, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, revealed that a person who dies from air pollution-related causes typically dies about a decade earlier than he or she might have if they consistantly breathed clean air.
Jonathan Levy, a professor of environmental health at Boston University, says the conclusions drawn Barrett and his team agree with similar conclusions by the Environmental Protection Agency.
MIT hopes the results will provide valuable data in setting future environmental policy with a few to reducing emissions.