ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Asthmatics Who Quit Smoking May Reverse Lung Damage
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Climate Change Could Sting Allergy, Asthma Sufferers
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Health Tip: Anticipating Acupuncture
New Insights Show Ginseng Fights Inflammation
Placebo Acupuncture Tied to Higher IVF Pregnancies
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Bone Loss Stable on Restricted Calorie Diet
Fall Sports Peak Time for Lower Leg Damage
Study Shows Exercise Shields Against Osteoporosis
CANCER
Seaweed May Help Treat Lymphoma
Lifting Weights Can Ease Arm Swelling in Breast Cancer Survivors
Tanning Beds Shown To Raise Cancer Risk, Study Says
CAREGIVING
Hispanic Children More Likely to Have Hearing Loss
Study Casts Doubt on Influential Hospital Safety Survey
Most Women Struggle With Rising Health Care Costs
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Smog Tougher on the Obese
Anemia Rates Down for U.S. Women and Children
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
COSMETIC
Health Tip: After Liposuction
The Acne Drug Accutane More Than Doubles Depression Risk
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Sports Drinks May Be Tough on Teeth
Obesity Boosts Gum Disease Risk
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
DIABETES
Out-of-Control Blood Sugar May Affect Memory
Americans Consuming More Sugary Beverages
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
DIET, NUTRITION
B Vitamins Might Lower Stroke Risk
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Added Sugars in Diet Threaten Heart Health
DISABILITIES
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Showerheads Harbor a Bounty of Germs
Pollution Particles Impair Blood Vessel Function
Air Pollution Exposure May Slow Fetal Growth
EYE CARE, VISION
Kids Think Glasses Make Others Look Smart, Honest
FDA Goes After Unapproved Eye Washes, Skin Ointments
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
FITNESS
The Juice From Beetroots May Boost Stamina
Early Exercise Boosts Outcomes for ICU Patients
Living With Less TV, More Sweat Boosts Weight Loss
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Intestinal Bacteria Trigger Immune Response
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
GENERAL HEALTH
Natural Oils Help Lower Body Fat For Some
New Options Offered for Sleep Apnea
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
HEAD & NECK
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fatty Fish May Cut Heart Failure Risk in Men
Review Confirms Links Between Diet, Heart Health
More Steps a Day Lead to Better Health
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Now Reported in All 50 States
More Medicinal Uses for Pomegranate
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Fussy Babys Could Be Out Of Your Control
Most Depressed Teens Don't Get Treatment
Time to Remind Teens About Sun Protection
MEN'S HEALTH
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
MENTAL HEALTH
Optimism May Boost Immune System
Eight Spiritual Universal Principles in the Art of Practice
Have a Goal in Life? You Might Live Longer
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Prenatal Stress May Boost Baby's Asthma Risk
Acupuncture May Relieve Acid Indigestation In Pregnancy
Breast-Feeding May Protect a Woman's Heart
SENIORS
More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat
Tai Chi May Help Ward Off Knee Pain in Seniors
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Postmenopausal Women With Breast Cancer Face Joint Issues
Exercise, Weight Control May Keep Fibromyalgia at Bay
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Add your Article

Ozone Pollution Taking Toll on American Lives

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, March 11 (HealthDay News) -- Thousands of Americans are dying each year from lung disease caused by atmospheric ozone, a new study finds.

The greatest risk may for those living be in hot, dry cities such as Los Angeles, which has one of the highest concentrations of ozone. Residents of Los Angeles may face a 25 percent to 30 percent higher annual risk of dying from a respiratory ailment versus people in low-ozone areas such as the Great Plains, the researchers said.

The report, published in the March 12 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, also found that that tiny components of smog called "fine particulate matter" had a clear link to cardiovascular deaths.

"This is one of the first studies where we've been able to report separate independent effect from both particulate matter and ozone," said lead researcher Michael Jerrett, an associate professor of environmental health sciences at the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley. "With particulate matter, we see effects very strongly for cardiovascular mortality such as heart attack and stroke and, for ozone, we see them in respiratory deaths."

"That suggests that we can't just regulate particulate matter or ozone," Jerrett continued. "We have to look at dealing with both pollutants because they're both exerting major impacts, but on different mortality outcomes."

An estimated 240,000 people in the United States and 7.7 million people worldwide die of respiratory disease each year, according to data from the World Health Organization.

Efforts to reduce ground-level ozone have stalled in recent years, Jarrett said, and now one in three Americans lives in an area that exceeds the national standard for ozone levels.

A year ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency did issue stricter air quality standards for ground-level ozone, but many scientists advocate still lower levels.

When hovering seven miles above the earth, ozone is actually beneficial because it blocks ultraviolet radiation from the sun. However, closer to the ground it infiltrates the lungs and may cause damage. A number of studies have tried to link ozone exposure with mortality but they have been inconclusive, the researchers noted.

In their study, Jerrett and his colleagues cross-referenced American Cancer Society data with pollution data from 96 metropolitan areas in the United States. In all, the study included information on almost 449,000 people and included 118,777 deaths occurring over nearly two decades of follow-up.

The results: each additional 10 parts per billion (ppb) of ozone concentration was linked to a 4 percent increase risk of dying from respiratory causes, most notably pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The findings carry the knowledge of air pollution and its effect on health a notch deeper, one expert said.

"This is something we've seen before with high levels of pollution, though we had not identified ozone as something causing respiratory diseases," said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "We know it's air pollution, but what in air pollution?

Ozone is also a powerful greenhouse gas, Jerrett said, so measures to improve health might have the added benefit of slowing climate change.

"Everybody knows we need to go greener. It's just a question of how we do that," Horovitz stated.

More information

Find out the ozone concentrations in your county at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency .



SOURCES: Michael Jerrett, Ph.D., associate professor, environmental health sciences, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley; Len Horovitz, M.D., pulmonary specialist, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; March 12, 2009, New England Journal of Medicine

Last Updated: March 11, 2009

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