When polluters exceed their limits, how many people will die?


Measure air quality Essentially a measure of excess-any amount of toxic nitrogen oxides, ground-level ozone, and fine particulate matter can be harmful to human health. But when it comes to federal regulations, the concept of excess becomes a bit unstable. When an oil refinery or factory exceeds the pollution limit set by the local public health authority, the smoke is considered “excessive emissions” or, more strangely, “excessive emissions.”

Of course, the emission limit is arbitrary. In a more than 20 People are dead Hourly air quality is poor, and this burden is biased towards communities of color. But analysing the labor costs of these spillovers can help weigh – or possibly tighten – these arbitrary limits.Therefore, Nikolaos Zirogiannis, an environmental economist at Indiana University, decided to quantify a state’s health loss: how many people die each year as a result additional Pollution?

His team chose to focus on Texas, where a large number of fossil fuels and chemical plants combined with industry-friendly regulations in the state made it a hot spot for excess emissions. But it also happens to have the strictest public disclosure requirements in the country; in 2001, state legislators not only required facilities to report excess emissions within 24 hours, but also to update these data daily for public review. “Texas is the only state in the United States that has very, very detailed record requirements for these types of emissions,” Zirogiannis said.

He and his team combed through 15 years of reports, as well as mortality statistics and data from local air quality monitors. They concluded that 35 elderly people in Texas die each year from these excess emissions—in other words, if all polluters are kept within the allowable range, these deaths would not happen. This is the first time scientists have linked health effects to this part of pollution. result Will appear in the July issue Journal of Environmental Economics and Management.

“This is a very high number,” Zirogiannis said, “because this number comes only from those who exceed the standard.”

The team’s main way to link these emissions to deaths is to increase the level of local ground-level ozone by isolating them. Annoying pollutants This can cause heart problems and respiratory diseases. “There is a lot of literature linking elevated ozone levels to mortality from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases,” said Joan Casey, an environmental health scientist at Columbia University, who was not involved in the study. Heart attacks, strokes, asthma attacks, the worsening of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-“These are the types of results I expect and can explain what they are seeing here,” Casey said.

Oil refineries, natural gas facilities, chemical plants, power plants and pipelines are hardly closed systems. Every time it is shut down for maintenance, restarted, or happens to fail-this is an opportunity for abnormal emissions. Nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds (VOC) or other pollutants can leak into the local air. Each substance may be dangerous in itself, but in the atmosphere exposed to sunlight, these chemicals can also cause the formation of ground-level ozone.

The team collected reports from the Texas Environmental Quality Commission between 2002 and 2017, linking industrial air pollution to local peak ozone levels. These data show the time, location and reason of the discharge, as well as the type of discharge involving chemical pollution.They found a correlation between the release of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds and the jump in ozone readings on the monitor Tracked Environmental Protection Agency.


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