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Chronic Exposure to Air Pollution Linked with Heart Disease, Lung Cancer

Sep 07, 2013 07:16 AM EDT

Researchers have found that long-time exposure to ozone, a greenhouse gas prevalent in urban areas, can raise the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The study was conducted by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and colleagues who also found a strong association between nitrogen dioxide and an increased risk of death from lung cancer.

This isn't the first study to link health complications withrising levels of air pollution; a related study had found that annually two million people die due to air pollution. Previous research by scientists at MIT also found that more people in the U.K. die from air pollution than road accidents. This study appeared in the journal Environment Science and Technology.

For the study, experts estimated air pollution exposure of over 73,000 people living in California. Mortality data was obtained from government records. Researchers then compared both data to find the risk of death due to heart attack or lung cancer from exposure to greenhouse gases.

"Ozone has already been linked to respiratory problems, but this is the first study to show that it also increases the risk of death from ischemic heart disease, which accounts for more than 7 million deaths worldwide each year. Our findings will likely up the total deaths due to air pollution by hundreds of thousands per year in the next World Health Organization assessment," Michael Jerrett, professor at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health and lead author of the study, said in a news release.

The present study is published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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