Reductions in air pollution have yielded fast and dramatic impacts on health outcomes and all-cause morbidity, according to a new report.
The study by the Environmental Committee of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) reviewed interventions that have reduced air pollution at its source. It found that the improvements in health were striking.
Starting at week one of a ban on smoking in Ireland, for example, there was a 13 per cent drop in all-cause mortality, a 26 per cent reduction in ischaemic heart disease, a 32 per cent reduction in stroke and a 38 per cent reduction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Interestingly, the greatest benefits in that case occurred among non-smokers.
In the United States, a 13-month closure of a steel mill in Utah reduced the number of hospitalisations for pneumonia, pleurisy, bronchitis and asthma by half. Daily mortality fell by 16 per cent for every 100 μg/m3 PM10 decrease.
Commenting on the findings, lead author of the report, Dean Schraufnagel said: "We knew there were benefits from pollution control, but the magnitude and relatively short time duration to accomplish them were impressive."
The report is published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.