A study by researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has found that emissions from road transportation are a larger contributor to pollutant-related mortalities in the US than those from power generation or industry.
A team from MIT’s Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment found that of the 200,000 premature deaths in the US caused by changes in concentrations of fine particulate matter measuring 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) every year, road transportation emissions account for around 53,000 per year, or roughly one quarter.
Titled ‘Air pollution and early deaths in the United States’ and published in the journal Atmospheric Environment, the paper assesses the health impacts of major emissions sectors in US via a multiscale air quality model.
The study classifies emissions sources into six categories: electric power generation; industry; commercial and residential sources; road transportation; marine transportation and rail transportation.
The results from road transport emissions were ahead of deaths from power generation (approximately 52,000 PM2.5-related and 2000 ozone-related) and industry (41,000 PM2.5-related and 2000 ozone-related).
The researchers concluded that, “The results are indicative of the extent to which policy measures could be undertaken in order to mitigate the impact of specific emissions from different sectors – in particular black carbon emissions from road transportation and sulfur dioxide emissions from power generation.”
Narrowing down to a state-by-state analysis, the study found California suffers the greatest health impact from air pollution, with about 21,000 early deaths annually being mostly attributed to road transportation and commercial and residential emissions.