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Exposure to Ground Level Ozone Increases Risk of Death

Daily exposure to ozone pollution ups mortality risk

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Ozone
Researchers have found that daily exposure to ground level ozone in cities worldwide is associated with an increased risk of death. Pixabay

Researchers have found that daily exposure to ground level ozone in cities worldwide is associated with an increased risk of death. This is the latest health news.

Ground level ozone is a highly reactive gas commonly found in urban and suburban environments, formed when pollutants react in sunlight.

The findings, published in the journal The BMJ, based on data from over 400 cities in 20 countries across the world – show that more than 6,000 deaths each year would have been avoided in the selected cities if countries had implemented stricter air quality standards.

Ozone
What’s more, smaller but still substantial mortality impacts were found even for ozone concentrations below WHO guideline levels. Pixabay

“These findings have important implications for the design of future public health actions; particularly, for example, in relation to the implementation of mitigation strategies to reduce the impacts of climate change,” said researchers from University of Bern in Switzerland.

Current air quality thresholds (in micrograms per cubic meter of ambient air) range from 100 µg/m3 (WHO), 120 µg/m3 (European Union directive), 140 µg/m3 (US National Ambient Air Quality Standard), and 160 µg/m3 (Chinese Ambient Air Quality Standard).

Recent reviews suggest that 80 per cent of the world’s population in urban areas are exposed to air pollution levels above the WHO threshold.

Most previous studies have found positive associations between ground level ozone and mortality, but differences in study design and quality make it difficult to draw consistent conclusions across different regions.

Ozone
Ground level ozone is a highly reactive gas commonly found in urban and suburban environments, formed when pollutants react in sunlight. Pixabay

To try and address this, an international research team has analysed deaths and environmental measures (weather and air pollutants) in 406 cities of 20 countries, with overlapping periods between 1985 and 2015.

Using data from the Multi-City Multi-Country Collaborative Research Network, they derived daily average ozone levels (above a maximum background level of 70 µg/m3), particulate matter, temperature, and relative humidity at each location to estimate the daily number of extra deaths attributable to ozone. A total of 45,165,171 deaths were analysed in the 406 cities. On average, a 10 µg/m3 increase in ozone during the current and previous day was associated with a 0.18 per cent increased risk of death, suggesting evidence of a potential direct association.

This equates to 6,262 extra deaths each year (or 0.2 per cent of total mortality) in the 406 cities that could potentially have been avoided if countries had implemented stricter air quality standards in line with the WHO guideline.

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What’s more, smaller but still substantial mortality impacts were found even for ozone concentrations below WHO guideline levels, supporting the WHO initiative of encouraging countries to revisit the current air quality guidelines and enforcing stronger emission restrictions to meet these recommendations, say the researchers. (IANS)

Next Story

New Species of Soil Bacteria Can Fight Soil Pollutants

This bacteria to fight climate change, soil pollutants

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Soil bacteria
Researchers have found a new species of soil bacteria that is particularly adept at breaking down organic matter. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Researchers have found a new species of soil bacteria that is particularly adept at breaking down organic matter, including the cancer-causing chemicals that are released when coal, gas, oil and refuse are burned.

The newly discovered bacteria belong to the genus Paraburkholderia madseniana, which are known for their ability to degrade aromatic compounds and, in some species, the capacity to form root nodules that fix atmospheric nitrogen.

According to the study, researchers at Cornell University in the US with colleagues from Lycoming College described the new bacterium in a paper published in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.

Soil bacteria
The bacteria has the capacity to form root nodules that fix atmospheric nitrogen in the soil. (Representational Image). Pixabay

The first step was sequencing the bacterium’s ribosomal RNA genes, which provided genetic evidence that madseniana was a unique species.

In studying the new bacteria, the researchers noticed that madseniana is especially adept at breaking down aromatic hydrocarbons, which make up lignin, a major component of plant biomass and soil organic matter.

According to the researchers, aromatic hydrocarbons are also found in toxic PAH pollution.

This means that the newly identified bacteria could be a candidate for biodegradation research and an important player in the soil carbon cycle.

In the case of madseniana, Buckley’s lab wants to learn more about the symbiotic relationship between the bacteria and forest trees.

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Initial research suggests that trees feed carbon to the bacteria, and in turn the bacteria degrade soil organic matter, thereby releasing nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus for the trees.

Understanding how bacteria break down carbon in soil could hold the key to the sustainability of the land and the ability to predict the future of global climate, the researchers said. (IANS)