Green Car Congress  
Go to GCC Discussions forum About GCC Contact  RSS Subscribe Twitter headlines

« E.ON Power-to-Gas facility begins commercial operations; wind-to-H2 | Main | VW introducing 1.8L EA888 Gen 3 engine in 2014 Jetta, Passat and Beetle; driving impressions »

Print this post

MIT study says combustion emissions cause ~200,000 premature deaths/year in US; vehicles and power generation top sources

29 August 2013

20130828101408-0
Annual average concentrations of fine particulates from US sources of combustion emissions from (a) electric power generation; (b) industry; (c) commercial and residential sources; (d) road transportation; (e) marine transportation; (f) rail transportation; (g) sum of all combustion sources; (h) all sources. Source: MIT. Click to enlarge.

Researchers from MIT’s Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment have concluded that ground-level PM2.5 emissions from combustion sources such as industrial smokestacks, vehicle tailpipes, marine and rail operations, and commercial and residential heating throughout the United States cause about 200,000 (90% CI: 90,000–362,000) premature deaths each year, with another 10,000 (90% CI: −1,000 to 21,000) deaths due to changes in ozone concentrations.

Emissions from road transportation are the most significant contributor, causing ∼53,000 (90% CI: 24,000–95,000) PM2.5-related premature deaths and ∼5,000 (90% CI: −900 to 11,000) ozone-related early deaths per year. Power generation follows closely, causing ∼52,000 (90% CI: 23,000–94,000) PM2.5-related and ∼2,000 (90% CI: −300 to 4,000) ozone-related premature mortalities per year. Industrial emissions contribute to ∼41,000 (90% CI: 18,000–74,000) early deaths from PM2.5 and ∼2000 (90% CI: 0–4,000) early deaths from ozone, according to the study.

In a state-by-state analysis, the researchers found that California suffers the worst health impacts from air pollution, with about 21,000 early deaths annually, mostly attributed to road transportation and to commercial and residential emissions from heating and cooking.

The researchers also mapped local emissions in 5,695 US cities, finding the highest emissions-related mortality rate in Baltimore, where 130 out of every 100,000 residents likely die in a given year due to long-term exposure to air pollution.

Steven Barrett, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, and colleagues have published their results in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

The results are indicative of the extent to which policy measures could be undertaken in order to mitigate the impact of specific emissions from different sectors—in particular black carbon emissions from road transportation and sulfur dioxide emissions from power generation.

—Caiazzo et al.

Barrett says that a person who dies from an air pollution-related cause typically dies about a decade earlier than he or she otherwise might have. To determine the number of early deaths from air pollution, the team first obtained emissions data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Emissions Inventory, a catalog of emissions sources nationwide. The researchers collected data from the year 2005, the most recent data available at the time of the study.

They then divided the data into six emissions sectors: electric power generation; industry; commercial and residential sources; road transportation; marine transportation; and rail transportation. Barrett’s team fed the emissions data from all six sources into an air-quality simulation of the impact of emissions on particles and gases in the atmosphere.

To see where emissions had the greatest impact, they removed each sector of interest from the simulation and observed the difference in pollutant concentrations. The team then overlaid the resulting pollutant data on population-density maps of the United States to observe which populations were most exposed to pollution from each source.

  • The greatest number of emissions-related premature deaths came from road transportation, with 53,000 early deaths per year attributed to exhaust from the tailpipes of cars and trucks.

  • Pollution from electricity generation still accounted for 52,000 premature deaths annually. The largest impact was seen in the east-central United States and in the Midwest: Eastern power plants tend to use coal with higher sulfur content than Western plants.

  • Most premature deaths due to commercial and residential pollution sources, such as heating and cooking emissions, occurred in densely populated regions along the East and West coasts.

  • Pollution from industrial activities was highest in the Midwest, roughly between Chicago and Detroit, as well as around Philadelphia, Atlanta and Los Angeles. Industrial emissions also peaked along the Gulf Coast region, possibly due to the proximity of the largest oil refineries in the United States.

  • Southern California saw the largest health impact from marine-derived pollution, such as from shipping and port activities, with 3,500 related early deaths.

  • Emissions-related deaths from rail activities were comparatively slight, and spread uniformly across the east-central part of the country and the Midwest.

While the study is based on data from 2005, Barrett says the results are likely representative of today’s pollution-related health risks.

Jonathan Levy, a professor of environmental health at Boston University, says Barrett’s calculations for the overall number of premature deaths related to combustion emissions agree with similar conclusions by the Environmental Protection Agency. The group’s results—particularly the breakdown of emissions by state—provide valuable data in setting future environmental policy, he says.

Resources

  • Fabio Caiazzo, Akshay Ashok, Ian A. Waitz, Steve H.L. Yim, Steven R.H. Barrett (2013) Air pollution and early deaths in the United States. Part I: Quantifying the impact of major sectors in 2005, Atmospheric Environment, Volume 79, Pages 198-208 doi: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2013.05.081

August 29, 2013 in Emissions, Health, Power Generation | Permalink | Comments (25) | TrackBack (0)

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c4fbe53ef019aff11c323970c

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference MIT study says combustion emissions cause ~200,000 premature deaths/year in US; vehicles and power generation top sources:

Comments

A huge number of those deaths can be avoided by the use of fuel cells and batteries.
This does not presuppose any use of fuel cells in transport, although they may help with that, but the use of fuel cells to generate electricity far more energy efficiently and much, much more cleanly than by current methods.
The German and Japanese home fuel cells enable electricity production at home, with the waste heat providing hot water.
So transmission losses are avoided, and various types of fuel cells can provide different balances between electricity and heat.

The use of batteries in cars of course needs no more said about it here, and other technologies like solar and nuclear have a big part to play.

No doubt GCC's resident lunatic/shill will be commenting on how he sees no evidence, and that emissions are health giving, but whilst that may be irritating it does not alter the facts, or the fact that it is coming within our power to greatly alleviate the problem.

Too bad that people who strongly believe that burning fossil fuels is healthy will reject this and similar studies as smokers did a few years ago.

It's difficult to dispute studies such as these but has anyone every thought about what facts,statistics are used in making these determinations . I have thought about in. And done some studying and still it appears to be an educated guess. There are hundreds of other studies such as this and i must admit i question some of them.

In reference to the about entry, what I question are the numbers they come up with.

@Jimr:
I am suspicious of single studies myself, and particularly those which are looking for relatively few assumed casualties from a particular cause amongst a very large data field.
No Linear Threshold for radiation is one such hypothesis on very thin foundations.

This estimate is different, for at least two reasons:
There are countless other studies, which if they haven't come up with identical figures, are in the same ball park.

The casualty rate is relatively high, and substantiated by clinical evidence on a host of individuals from their doctors, hospitals etc.

In my view the evidence on air pollution is solid, and with similar levels of confidence to the evidence for smoking's harmful effects.

I could quote umpteen other studies, for instance from Europe, compiled quite separately, which put casualties at similar levels.

More junk science from MIT.

Here is what is basically wrong with the model. Emissions do not hurt people, exposures hurts people.

That is the problem with statistical models. Statistically being a Brit and not too well educated Davemart has smoked lots of cigarettes. However, Davemart’s exposure does not harm me.

According to the MIT model air quality must really suck where I live. The good news is that measured air quality is very good.

To put is simply, the model is wrong.

“A huge number of those deaths can be avoided by the use of fuel cells and batteries.”

Not true because air quality is very good in North America.

“The German and Japanese”

There is a pattern to BS at some at GCC. First they are wrong about where I live, they talk about someplace.

If Dacemart talked about the benefits of his fool cell by telling us about the ‘measured’ air quality I would not think he is a ‘resident lunatic/shill’ for fool cells.

“to greatly alleviate the problem.”

Of course we already have because air quality is very good in North America. There was a time 40 years ago when that was not true. The good news is that we have demonstrated that the systemic use of technology can solve environmental problems.

The model is not wrong. Kit P lives in less-populated area with perhaps cleaner electricity generation method. The pollutions from coal-fired power plants and vehicles are well known.

However, the good news is that, since 2005, on-road diesel and gasoline engines are forced to be much cleaner due to much more stringent EPA regulations. The EPA is also trying to phase out coal-fired power generation. Furthermore, the bulk of new power generation capacity now comes from renewable sources with zero pollution. HEV's, BEV's and PHEV's are rapidly gaining in sales. FCV's, being ZEV with the advantage of rapid fill-up, will be mass-produced by 2015 from many different MFG's.

Gradually, air pollution and GHG emission will be things of the past. All thanks to modern technologies brought on by stringent environmental regulations.

“In reference to the about entry, what I question are the numbers they come up with.”

I have looked at the studies of Levy et al and many others. First they looked at high levels of pollution 30 years that were common at time. Second they looked at association not causation by looking at death certificates. A theory of causation in that the pollution triggered heart attacks in chronically ill old people. Of course this theory has yet to be proven although they have had plenty of time.

“The casualty rate is relatively high, …”

That is not true and the problem with fear mongers. Statistically insignificant is not the same relatively high. Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

“No Linear Threshold for radiation is one such hypothesis on very thin foundations.”

There are some who like to debate how many angles can dance on the head of a pin. From a practical standpoint is does not matter. Some claim that nuclear power is expensive because of regulations. Depending on which theory you subscribe to, a 500 mrem limit could justified based on risk instead of the current 5 mrem limit. Since we do not have a problem meeting the current limits, there is no reason to increase them.

When it comes to air quality, we have reduced pollution levels below the levels where we are seeing health effects. There is lots on evidence that an aging population has health problems. Not much evidence that pollution is the cause.

“Too bad that people who strongly believe that burning fossil fuels is healthy will reject this and similar studies as smokers did a few years ago.”

The evidence says Harvey is wrong. My wife burned fossil fuel just the other day to visit her cardiologist. The health benefit that transportation provides is huge. My utility burns coal so I can heat and cool my house. While our air quality is good, the natural environment is very hot and humid. Reducing heat stress is a huge health benefit.

Modern society offers significant health benefits. Some of us are able to distinguish the difference between smoking two packs of cigarettes a day and parts per trillion levels of pollutants. I very strongly think that providing electricity for heating and cooking is the single most beneficial air quality improvement that can be made. The difference between thinking and believing is evidence.

For the benefit of anyone unfamiliar with this site who may imagine that Kit is simply exhibiting reasonable scepticism, it should be pointed out that he simply ignores all the countless studies which have been referenced to him.

Here is one analysis of PRESENT air quality in the US in respect to health, including California:

'Particles, SOx, and acid aerosols are a complex group of distinct pollutants that have common sources and usually covary in concentration. During the past two decades, the chemical characteristics and the geographic distribution of sulfur oxide and particulate pollution have been altered by control strategies, specifically taller stacks for power plants, put in place in response to air pollution regulations adopted in the early 1970s. While the increasing stack heights have lowered local ambient levels, the residence time of SOx and particles in the air have been increased, thereby promoting transformation to various particulate sulfate compounds, including acidic sulfates. These sulfate particles constitute a large fraction of the total mass of smaller particles (< 3 microns in aerodynamic diameter). Epidemiologic studies have consistently provided evidence of adverse health effects of these air pollutants. Particulate and SO2 pollution were strongly implicated in the acute morbidity and mortality associated with the severe pollution episodes in Donora (Pennsylvania), London, and New York in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. There is new evidence that even current ambient levels of PM10 (30 to 150 micrograms/m3) are associated with increases in daily cardiorespiratory mortality and in total mortality, excluding accidental and suicide deaths. These associations have been shown in many different communities, as widely different in particle composition and climate as Philadelphia, St. Louis, Utah Valley, and Santa Clara County, California. It has recently been shown in a long-term prospective study of adults in the United States that chronic levels of higher PM10 pollution are associated with increased mortality after adjusting for several individual risk factors. Daily fluctuations in PM10 levels have also been shown to be related to acute respiratory hospital admissions in children, to school and kindergarten absences, to decrements in peak flow rates in normal children, and to increased medication use in children and adults with asthma.'

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8542133

In one way or another, Kit will evade or obfuscate.

For the benefit of anyone unfamiliar with this site who may imagine that Kit is simply exhibiting reasonable scepticism, it should be pointed out that he . . . let's make it simple Dave - In one of his past posts Kit had bragged that he has a long career in the energy producing industry, and as he has just pointed out that "My utility burns coal so I can heat and cool my house" we can assume. . .

The model is not wrong. Kit P lives in less-populated area with perhaps cleaner electricity generation method. The pollutions from coal-fired power plants and vehicles are well known.

However, the good news is that, since 2005, on-road diesel and gasoline engines are forced to be much cleaner due to much more stringent EPA regulations. The EPA is also trying to phase out coal-fired power generation. Furthermore, the bulk of new power generation capacity now comes from renewable sources with zero pollution. HEV's, BEV's and PHEV's are rapidly gaining in sales. FCV's, being ZEV with the advantage of rapid fill-up, will be mass-produced by 2015 from many different MFG's.

Gradually, air pollution and GHG emission will be things of the past. All thanks to modern technologies brought on by stringent environmental regulations.

Kit P lives in less-populated area with perhaps cleaner electricity generation method.

Roger, did you miss the part where he said his utility burns coal? It is more likely the population in his area benefits from Pacific westerlies frequently cleaning out their airshed.

Yes Kit...life expectancy has been going down and many difficult to cure diseases have been going up in USA due to all that so called clean air from fossil fuels burning etc.

The idea is to make more and more people sick so that industry can make higher profits by treating them.

The people involved/benefiting in those expensive 'growing cure' treatments for man made diseases should have the decency to tell the truth?

Good point, ai vin.
Sorry that somehow my posting appears twice. I will try to avoid resubmiting it, even if it does not appear. Usually will appear a few hours later.

The filters on GCC flag lots of things for moderator review, so they "vanish" and re-appear when approved.  I've learned to be patient.

How can anybody (in 2013) claim that burning fossil or bio fuels has no major effects on environment except for smokers?

Kit P is quite correct. If you believe the professional "hired guns" writing a biased study for their clients who want a predetermined answer, you would also have to believe that all the hard work of the past 45 years by many people including green environmentalists, has accomplished nothing at all.

I may object to some green excess, but I do respect the work and what has been accomplished, by all side working together. The likes of Harvey D and Dave apparently do not.

Kit P has wisely observed the false basis of the "Study". That someone smoking a cigarette in London has no impact here in North America, on him. So are the false, pre-derived conclusions of this "so-called" Study.

That is patent bologna. Our Air and Waters on the North American continent have been almost completely cleaned up.

Phony greens in Europe have mostly offered voluminous hot air, and little else; and accomplished very little in the mean time. Only now and going forward into 2017 and beyond, is Europe actually beginning to cleanse its Air and Water, rather then posture and just emote; but collect voluminous taxes on a rather harmless and necessary trace gas.

Only then will they start to match N. A. regulations in force since the early 1980s, some 30 years ago, and long since super-ceded by even tougher regulations. By 2047, Europe may have air as clean as in North America, right now. Then the hired guns will have to go farther afield, to find a similar parallel to falsely conjoin in their "Studies".

As D suggests we should be encouraged that we have been able to clean up the environment. Yesterday we traveled across the high country of arid northern New Mexico and Arizona observing the operation of two large coal power plants. Against the back drop of crystal blue skies there was no telltale yellow yellow/brown streak that could be observed 25 years ago.

As we got closer to the power plants, the reason was readily observable to the trained observer. The plants have been retrofitted with pollution control equipment.

Soot particles, NOx, CO, unburned hydrocarbon. Does anyone need a study to know that these are bad for your health. It took hundreds of years for governments to officially recognized the health affects of cigarette smoker, even though most people already knew that it was bad for your health. Sitting in a traffic jam is bad for your health. If you need a study to tell you that, there is something wrong with your brain function.

“The model is not wrong. Kit P lives in less-populated area”

The model says I have poor air quality, measurement says I have good air quality. The model is wrong.

“benefits from Pacific westerlies”

We live in Virginia.

“In one way or another, Kit will evade or obfuscate.”

I do not think that Davemart actually bothers to read the long cut and paste. Rather than obfuscate, I will try to make it clear to those who have an open mind.

First thing to note is the date of Davemart’s linked article. It was published in 1996.

“the acute morbidity and mortality associated with the severe pollution episodes in Donora (Pennsylvania), London, and New York in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.”

Pollution used to be bad with significant health effects. Then we worked on cleaning up the air and air quality was much better by 1996. The debate shifted to how we could make the air even cleaner. Since 1996 there have been significant new regulation aimed at old coal plants and sulfur in transportation fuel. As a result, air quality has improved to the point in North America that there is not significant pollution problem.

"Sitting in a traffic jam is bad for your health."

Who sits in traffic jams and who smokes?

Worrying about the health effects of traffic jams is just dimwitted. The risks of a fatal car accident does not require a model. Just count the number of dead bodies.

It is very easy to avoid traffic jams and pollution.

Recent extreme weather conditions are directly related to past increases in air pollution and GHG.

Kit and D have already moved or will soon move to higher grounds?

“benefits from Pacific westerlies”

We live in Virginia.

Well then I was wrong to assume you'd want to live close to your sail boat. On Aug 1 you told Bob "people in Seattle can ignore the big coal plant in their backyard and pretend that power comes from a wind farm 200 miles away. That wind farm is where I have my sail boat. The wind farm was built there for the same reason I chose to joint the yacht club nearby" so I assumed you lived on the west coast - not 2800 miles from the wind farm and your boat.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Green Car Congress © 2013 BioAge Group, LLC. All Rights Reserved. | Home | BioAge Group