Ozone is a form of air
pollution, commonly known as smog, which is produced by the interaction of
tailpipe and factory emissions and sunlight.
Michael Jerrett of the
University of California at Berkeley led the study. He says:
"short term studies have been done suggesting a link between ozone and lung diseases but the latest study is different both in size and scope. And this is the first time that we were able to determine an association between ozone levels and premature mortality from respiratory causes."
Researchers looked at the
health impacts of ground level ozone on almost 450-thousand people living in 96
large and small cities in the United States between 1977 and 2000.
They found approximately ten thousand people died of some form of respiratory illness, with the greatest number of deaths occurring in large urban areas where smog levels are highest.
Jerrett says ozone is a lung
irritant that causes asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and
pneumonia which over time can lead to death. He says researchers found that
ozone contributes to lung disease regardless of age, gender or smoking status. "So
ozone is a pollutant that affects everyone and we need to be particularly
concerned about those types of pollutants that are going to affect broad
populations because the public health impact can be very large."
The study on the health impact of ozone was published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.
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Translated by Buasawan Simmala