There’s new evidence that bad air can make you sick. A new study shows that as air becomes more polluted, there is an increase in the number of childhood asthma cases in area emergency rooms. The study focused on the San Joaquin Valley area of California where the pollution levels exceed federal limits 30 to 40 percent of the time. The study estimates nearly 2,000 additional childhood asthma emergency room visits each year were connected to ozone pollution. Researchers say there was also an increase in children visiting the ER for pneumonia and adults were more likely to be hospitalized for asthma and heart attacks as pollution levels rose.
The California State University, Fresno study offers the first local evidence of short term health effects connected to elevated pollution levels. While other studies have made the link between air pollution and health problems, officials say studies are more relevant to the public when they are done in the person’s own region. Health officials in the San Joaquin Valley say the study validates the difficult things they ask of businesses and households.
Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency just announced a new model for studying air pollution that will help scientists protect public health . The new version of the agency’s air quality model uses up-to-the-minute meteorology and air chemistry data to determine how weather conditions affect pollution and how pollution can change and affect weather. The new model will allow scientists to better understand the ways that air pollution moves around the globe and provide information to help protect public health.