How Many People Died If Polluters Exceeded Their Limits?


Measuring air quality naturally a measure of excess-any amount of toxic nitrogen oxides, ground-level ozone, and well-disposed particles may not be good for human health. But when it comes to federal regulations, the idea of ​​excess is somewhat improving. If a plant or plant exceeds the limits set by the local public health authority to prevent pollution, the fumes are considered “excessive emissions,” or, more damaging, “excesses.”

Emission limits are unreasonable, of course. Less pollution is always better in a country where over 20 people will die per hour from poor air quality, and where the burden of bringing color communities. Even parsing human cost into flows can help weigh — or perhaps tighten — intentional limits. That’s why Nikolaos Zirogiannis, an environmental economist at Indiana University, decided to value a state’s health count: How many people die each year as a result of that surplus pollution?

His team chose to focus on Texas, where large quantities of fossil fuels and plant chemicals are mixed with state industry-friendly regulations to make it a hot spot for excess emissions. But it also happens that there are the most stringent requirements for public disclosure; in 2001, state legislators mandated that not only must facilities report excessive emissions within 24 hours, but this data be updated daily for public review. “Texas is the only state in the country with a more detailed record -keeping requirement for emission classes,” Zirogiannis said.

He and his team have compiled 15 years of reports, as well as mortality statistics and data from local air quality monitors. They concluded that every year, 35 older people die in Texas as a result of overdose – in other words, these are deaths that would not have occurred if all polluters had remained within their permitted limits. . This is the first time that scientists have linked the health effects of this pollutant. The consequences appear in the July issue of Journal of Economics and Environmental Management.

“It’s a very high number,” Zirogiannis said, “because it’s a number that just comes from violations.”

The main way the team linked these emissions to deaths was by differentiating the degree to which they raised local ground-level ozone levels, evil filth which can provoke heart problems and inflammatory respiratory disease. “There’s a lot of skin in the literature linking high ozone levels to respiratory and cardiac death,” said Joan Casey, an environmental health scientist at Columbia University who did not participate in the study. Heart attacks, strokes, asthma attacks, exacerbation of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease— “those are the kinds of consequences I expect to be what they see here,” Casey said.

Oil refineries, natural gas facilities, chemical plants, power plants, and pipelines are virtually non -closed systems. Every time someone stops for a resume, starts backing up, or just happens to be not working well-that’s a chance for an unusual ejaculation. Nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), or other pollutants flow into the local air. Each can be self-hazardous, but in a single daylight, these chemicals also contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone.

The team made the link between industrial air pollution and spikes in local ozone levels by collecting reports from the Texas Environmental Quality Commission in the years between 2002 and 2017. This data shows when, where, and how the release is made, and what kind of chemical pollution is involved. They found an association between the release of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and VOCs with jumps in ozone readings from the monitors. tracked by the Environmental Protection Agency.



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