A report out today from the American Thoracic Society (ATS) and New York University’s Marron Institute of Urban Management finds that approximately 9,320 deaths occur each year in metropolitan areas as a result of air pollution concentrations exceeding ATS-recommended standards for particle pollution and ozone.

A view of Downtown Los Angeles is obfuscated by air pollution.
Photo Credit: ThinkstockPhotos-186964421

A report out today from the American Thoracic Society (ATS) and New York University’s Marron Institute of Urban Management finds that approximately 9,320 deaths occur each year in metropolitan areas as a result of air pollution concentrations exceeding ATS-recommended standards for particle pollution and ozone.

According to the first annual Health of the Air report, higher-than-recommended concentrations of two major air pollutants—ambient ozone and fine particulate matter—also caused 21,400 major health events, or morbidities, and 19.3 million impacted days, or days when an individual was kept from work, school, or other activities due to health exacerbations.

The results are described in the report published in Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

A new online tool accompanies the study. Users can view the number of deaths, morbidities, and impacted days for any given metropolitan area. To use the tool, enter a zip code: you will see your particular metro area’s estimated annual number of deaths and morbidities from excess air pollution. Individual metro areas with the highest air pollution-related health impacts typically have large populations and relatively high concentrations of at least one of the two pollutants.

“This previously unavailable information is designed to increase public awareness and better inform public decision making with regard to the management of outdoor air pollution,” said Marron Institute professor Kevin Cromar, lead author of the Aug. 10 study and co-designer of www.HealthoftheAir.org. Health estimates are available for more than 650 counties in the lower 48 states (not Hawaii or Alaska)—those counties with federally valid air monitoring.

The estimated 9,320 annual deaths nationwide attributable to the problem are quantitatively comparable to the 9,967 alcohol-related traffic deaths that occurred in the U.S. in 2014.

To interview Professor Cromar, please contact NYU press officer Robert Polner at robert.polner@nyu.edu or 212.998.2337 (desk) / 646.552.3046 (mobile). To interview a medical authority, contact ATS spokesman Dacia Morris at 212.315.8620 or dmorris@thoracic.org.

About The American Thoracic Society:
Founded in 1905, the American Thoracic Society is the world's leading medical association dedicated to advancing pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine. The Society’s 15,000 members prevent and fight respiratory disease around the globe through research, education, patient care and advocacy. The ATS publishes three journals, the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, the American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology and the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

About the Marron Institute for Urban Management at New York University:
The Marron Institute works with cities to improve health, safety, mobility, and inclusiveness. Marron is dedicated to working with residents, officials, and practitioners to address pressing challenges on issues such as city planning, criminal justice, and environmental health. http://marroninstitute.nyu.edu/.