Huge new study shows that smog does, in fact, kill

The largest study ever conducted on the health effects of smog, or more particularly, ground-level ozone, concludes that, well, smog kills people. Published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study found that a ground-level ozone rise over a week of roughly 10 parts per billion (ppb) increases a given person’s chances of croaking by roughly 0.52 percent — higher for cardiovascular and respiratory deaths, and higher yet for senior citizens. This means, says study lead author Michelle Bell, “if ozone levels were decreased by 10 ppb, about 4,000 lives would be saved each year in [the 95 urban centers studied].” The U.S. EPA is currently reviewing its standards for maximum daily ozone levels, which were tightened in 1997 to 80 ppb over an eight-hour period. The study could lead to a further tightening of that restriction, as it shows that mortality rates rise even when ozone peaks below legal levels.