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Study: Pollution increases risk of hospitalization

Older adults that are exposed to air pollution may be at risk for lung and heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. The study, conducted by Harvard School of Public Health, is the first study to explore the link between the effects of long-term pollution exposure and rates of hospital admission.

Pollution and its effects

“Our study found that long-term rates of admissions for pneumonia, heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes are higher in locations with higher long-term average particle concentrations,” said lead author Itai Kloog, a research fellow in the Department of Environmental Health at HSPH.

“Particulate air pollution is one of the largest avoidable causes of death and illness in the United States, and unlike diet and exercise, does not require behavioral change. Off-the-shelf technology can be retrofitted onto sources of pollution at modest cost, with a large health benefit. This study shows that in addition to avoiding deaths, such measures will reduce chronic disease and medical care costs,” Joel Schwartz, professor of environmental epidemiology at HSPH and director of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis said.

The worst contributor of pollution

Coal- and oil-fired power plants produce almost half the toxic air pollution in the U.S., according to a new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility, which identifies the 20 states with the biggest polluters and the worst air quality. See list below.

Facilities that generate electricity are also our biggest sources of air pollution, including both smog and acid rain, and also mercury, which rains down can contaminate the fish we eat.

Top 20 Toxic Cities: (From worst to best)

  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Florida
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Indiana
  • Michigan
  • West Virginia
  • Georgia
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Alabama
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Tennessee
  • Missouri
  • Illinois
  • Wisconsin
  • New Hampshire
  • Iowa

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