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Air In Southern California Is Deadliest In The Nation, Says Study

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Not looking too hot. (Photo by Jeff via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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The American Thoracic Society released today a report saying that Southern California's air quality leads to more avoidable deaths than anywhere else in the country.

According to the report—Estimated Excess Morbidity and Mortality Caused by Air Pollution—there are 1,341 pollution-related deaths in the L.A., Long Beach, and Glendale areas each year. In the Riverside area, there are 808 deaths annually. These deaths, researchers believe, can be avoided if air quality standards were up to snuff with the ATS's recommendations. In terms of the number of annual avoidable deaths, the L.A. and Riverside areas had the highest figures in the U.S. Pittsburgh came in third with 285 avoidable deaths each year. Here's a list of the top five cities with the most avoidable pollution-related fatalities:

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(From healthoftheair.org)
Nationally, there is an estimated 9,230 deaths each year that are attributable to air pollution. This is almost on par with the number of alcohol-related deaths in 2013, which stood at 10,076.

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According to the World Health Organization, air pollution may cause people to die of heart disease, stroke, chronic pulmonary disease, and acute respiratory infections. Researchers at the ATS say that their estimates are conservative; they excluded some conditions and diseases that require a longer time to kill, as these incidents are harder to link conclusively to air pollution. The report did not include lung cancer, and some chronic illnesses such as diabetes, which may be exacerbated by contact with air pollution.

Kevin Cromer, an author of the study, told the Press-Enterprise that the report is meant to inform policy makers. "We are just providing previously unavailable information that can help air quality managers and cities make more meaningful decisions," said Cromer.

The report also lists the number of days that are "impacted" by air pollution. This includes the number of work days lost because of health issues related to pollutants. The report estimates that, annually, there are 2,892,029 impacted days in the L.A., Long Beach, and Glendale area.

Results of the study can be found at healthoftheair.org.