Exposure to air pollution does increase our risk of dying from Lung Cancer or Heart Disease. That is according to a 16 year study that involved more than a half million people. The study, which was a coalition of research from three universities and the American Cancer Society, shows that it is not the large stuff in pollution, like blowing dust, we need to worry about. Instead, it is the small combustion particles and sulfur oxides which come from vehicle exhausts and industry that are most harmful to our health. In fact, the research team says years of inhaling these fine particles is like a non-smoker living in the same house with a heavy smoker.
The half-million plus people used in the research were middle aged or older when the study began back in 1982. In a separate study, EPA teams are also now trying to identify the actual biological mechanism in the body, which when triggered by pollution, produces lung and cardio-pulmonary inflammation.
Dr. Arden Pope, a lead researcher at Brigham Young University says the findings are actually good news, since the fine particulates in pollution are controllable and have dropped in concentration in most cities over the past 20 years.
The research coalition included Brigham Young University, the University of Ottawa, the American Cancer Society, and the New York University School of Medicine.