Bioethicists need to become environmental activists.
A new analysis shows that more than 2 million deaths worldwide are linked with man-made air pollution each year. The findings also demonstrate that since the preindustrial age, the contribution of climate change to air pollution–related deaths is minimal.
An international team of researchers used models that simulated ozone and particulate matter levels in 1850 and in 2000. The investigators also examined long-term data from the American Cancer Society that reported on death rates in large populations from lung cancer, cardiopulmonary disease, and respiratory ailments linked with air pollutants.
They found that each year, about 470 000 people die of causes related to man-made increases in ozone and another 2.1 million deaths are linked with man-made increases in fine particulate matter—tiny particles suspended in the air that can penetrate deep into the lungs, causing cancer and respiratory disease.
Variations in temperature, humidity, and rainfall can change the rates at which pollutants…
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