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United States Earth Education The Almighty Buck News Science Technology

Preterm Births Linked To Air Pollution Cost Billions In The US (time.com) 70

mdsolar quotes a report from TIME: Air pollution leads to 16,000 premature births in the United States each year, leading to billions of dollars in economic costs, according to new research. Researchers behind the study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that preterm births associated with particulate matter -- a type of pollutant -- led to more than $4 billion in economic costs in 2010 due to medical care and lost productivity that results from disability. And, like many other public health issues, affected populations tend to be concentrated in low-income areas home to large numbers of minorities. "This is another piece of the evidentiary pie about why we should really be doing something about air pollution," says Tracey Woodruff, a professor who studies reproductive health and the environment at the University of California, San Francisco. "When you reduce air pollution you get lots of different health benefits." Countless studies have shown the effect of air pollution on cardiovascular and respiratory health -- killing millions each year. Air pollution leads to inflammation in blood vessels and contributes to lung cancer, asthma and a slew of other disorders. The effect on pregnancy may in some ways be an extension of those effects as air pollution disrupts the way a pregnant woman delivers oxygen to the fetus. Air pollution may also disrupt the endocrine system, keeping women from producing a protein needed to regulate pregnancy, researchers say.
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Preterm Births Linked To Air Pollution Cost Billions In The US

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  • by Dorianny ( 1847922 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @05:11PM (#51803341) Journal
    Why is it concentrated in low-income areas. Wouldn't densely populated rich Urban areas like Manhattan be at high risk from Air pollution?
    • This just in: Air pollution in the United States is racist!

    • The poor don't have Sharper Image ionizing air filters pumping ozone into their bedroom at night, while HEPA filters on the A/C system pull out larger particles...

      • by guises ( 2423402 )
        Alas, even the rich can't get Sharper Image ionizing air filters any more... What is the world coming to?
    • Short answer: no.
      Stupid answer: why would it?
      Explanation: Manhattan is close to the sea and the wind disperses the pollution.

    • Because low income areas don't have the political power to stop highways, manufacturing, and other sources of pollution from being built near them. Or any other undesirable development for that matter.

    • by Nexion ( 1064 )

      Because conjecture doesn't actually have to prove its assertions.

    • This.
      This should be easily tested for by looking at a few areas subject to frequent pollution problems. A great place to test this would be the LA Basin, another would be the Wasatch front of Utah (Salt Lake City Metro area) Both are natural bowls that frequently trap high levels of pollution that cover the entire area equally, not caring if the neighborhood is poor, middle class or rich.
  • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @05:11PM (#51803345)
    The study makes a lot of assumptions, and 'concludes' there is a correlation but I don't see the data behind that part. The cost includes a lot of interesting components, including lifetime productivity loss for the PTB individual. They include any economic loss they can count, but they don't offset with the jobs created by caring for some of the individuals, which sounds cold but it should be factored in as well.

    Regardless, this study seems to have a very wide margin of error associated with it.
    • Yes, jobs are created (including mine) but do we really want this kind of economic activity? It's like saying that the VA Hospital system is an economic boon because of all the people employed there, so let's go have some more messy wars with lots of amputations and chronic psychological problems.

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      In economic terms, they're broken windows.

    • May we throw a brick at your face so that we can support jobs?
      • Its not about whether the base reason for the business is 'good' or 'bad' in your mind or anyone elses. It is simple accounting, that there are jobs created by fulfilling the need and that should be considered when stating the overall economic impact. If you want to ignore that element simply because PTB is a bad thing, then you'll have an intentionally inaccurate result. You may not care if it is inaccurate do to your emotional response to the topic, but others like to use accurate information.
        • That may be all well and good.. in a socialist system where everyone shares and cooperates and where there is some sense of greater good. But in capitalism, people will just start to make others sick in order to profit from it.
  • unverified assertion (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @05:13PM (#51803357)

    there are over 500,000 pre-term births in the USA, so 15,000 are due to particulate air pollution eh?

    This little slice from the paper says it all, i.e., their claim is an ass-pull

    Though uncertainty remains about the contribution of specific outdoor
      air pollutants and
    windows of vulnerability, multiple observational studies of prenatal exposure have associated
    among other pollutants with adverse birth
    outcomes, most especially LBW and PTB (Darrow et al. 2009; Kloog et al. 2012; Laurent et al.
    2016), although some studies did not report this association (Johnson et al. 2016). In addition,
    one quasi-experimental study identified reductions in PTB and LBW in association with
    electronic toll collection, which also reduced traffic congestion and vehicle emissions
    .
      Further support for the notion that outdoor air pollution exposure may contribute to adverse
    birth outcomes is provided by laboratory experiments that document oxidant stress, inflammation
    and placental insufficiency as mechanisms by which air pollutants
      can contribute to early
    delivery (Institute of Medicine 2007; USEPA 2013; Woodruff et al. 2009).

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I can only hope sooner rather than later we as a species accept the fact our bond to this earth is closer and more intimate than we have generally been aware. Things we do that impact the environment whether it is air pollution, water pollution, fracking, deforestation etc etc dramatically impacts our quality of life as a species. Furthermore the impact may not be felt in our lifetimes, but during the lifetimes of generations not yet born !

    • All of the air pollution, water pollution, fracking, deforestation, and general environmental impact we've had on the world has been the result of processes that ultimately lead to a dramatically improved quality of life for us. Sometimes you gotta take the good with the bad.
  • by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Tuesday March 29, 2016 @05:36PM (#51803485)

    Hypothesis: noise pollution leads to bad sleeping habits in a pregnant mother which negatively impact the health of a baby.

    It would be interesting to see a study mapping noise pollution (high-density fire and ambulance all night, nearby night clubs or bars, etc...) with health of the child.

  • I would hate to guess what it costs in China, India, Russia, etc. Our air is far far cleaner than most of the other nations. Even now, we are wiping out emissions from coal, etc.
  • Elon will save us!

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