Thursday, March 12, 2015

Dutch die 1 year early due to air pollution

A recent study by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and Utrecht University shows the effect of air pollution on life expectancy in the Netherlands. Long-term (>5 years) exposure to particulate air pollution (PM10) and nitrogen dioxide was found to be associated with mortality. This was shown for total mortality as well as for mortality from respiratory diseases and lung cancer in the Netherlands. Furthermore, PM10 was associated with cardiovascular mortality.

In their studies the researchers used statistical data available from 7.2 million adults living in the Netherlands: all residents over 30 years who did not move for at least 5 years.

Until recently only levels of fine particulates have been used in calculations of premature deaths associated with air pollution in general. The study found that, in addition to the effect of fine particulates, nitrogen dioxide is also associated with premature deaths linked to air pollution.

The study also found an increased mortality risk for people under 65 while previously, it was thought that premature death due to the effects of air pollution occurred mainly in older people.

Using the numbers of this study Dutch environmental group Milieudefensie quantified the effects. PM10 pollution was shown to reduce life expectancy by 9 months while nitrogen dioxide exposure causes a 4 month reduction in life expectancy. One of the publishers of the RIVM article confirmed these findings in an interview. Milieudefensie calls for tougher regulations as they consider the effects of air pollution unacceptable.