The number of deaths related to air pollution in the United States shrank by 47 percent between 1990 and 2010, dropping from 135,000 per year to 71,000, according to new research published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. The decline in mortality is attributable to stricter regulations and improvements in air quality, the authors of the study concluded. This is despite increases in the country’s population, energy use, and car travel.
“We’ve invested a lot of resources as a society to clean up our air,” Jason West, an atmospheric scientist at the University of North Carolina and coauthor of the study, said in a statement. “This study demonstrates that those changes have had a real impact with fewer people dying each year due to exposure to outdoor air pollution.”