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‘Study says ‘safe’ air-quality levels in US, UK and EU still harmful for health’

New studies are showing that even minimal exposure to sooty air pollution, which comes from sources like vehicles and factories, can seriously harm people’s hearts and lungs. These findings raise concerns about the effectiveness of current government regulations in safeguarding public health.

According to the research, there seems to be no safe level of exposure to PM2.5, a type of tiny airborne pollution made up of microscopic soot particles. Even low levels of PM2.5 can increase the risk of heart and lung problems.

In one study, data from over 60 million individuals aged 65 and older in the US revealed a higher likelihood of hospitalization for cardiovascular diseases in areas with average levels of PM2.5. This risk was nearly one-third higher compared to areas with lower levels of pollution, as recommended by the World Health Organization.

But it’s not just the WHO’s recommended level that poses a risk. Another study found that even when exposure to PM2.5 was below this threshold, there was still an increase in hospital visits for cardiovascular and respiratory issues, along with emergency visits for respiratory problems.

PM2.5 particles primarily come from burning fossil fuels, such as those used in vehicles and industrial processes. The particles, when inhaled, can cause a range of health problems.

Despite the well-known risks of PM2.5 pollution, government regulations have not been stringent enough. While the US Environmental Protection Agency recently tightened the national air quality standard for PM2.5, it still exceeds the WHO limit. This suggests that public health will continue to be at risk.

Similar discrepancies exist in PM2.5 thresholds in other regions, like the UK and the European Union, prompting calls for stricter measures to tackle air pollution.

These studies highlight the urgent need for stronger action to address air pollution and protect public health. By prioritizing environmental health in policy decisions, it’s possible to achieve both economic prosperity and improved health outcomes.

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