This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

March 13, 2002

Study Links Particulates to Lung Cancer, Heart Disease

Long-term exposure to tiny particles of soot and dust in air pollution significantly increases the risk of dying from lung cancer and heart disease, according to a study released last week. Researchers at the New York University (NYU) School of Medicine and at Brigham Young University led the study, which analyzed data from about 500,000 U.S. adults who were followed from 1982 to 1998 as part of a cancer study. By linking the data to air pollution levels, the researchers were able to show that the number of lung cancer deaths increases by 8 percent for every 10 micrograms of fine particulate matter per cubic meter of air, and the number of deaths from heart disease increases 6 percent. For comparison, the annual average of fine particulates in the air in Los Angeles is 27 micrograms per cubic meter. See the NYU School of Medicine press release.

The results of the study were published in last week's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). See the JAMA Web site.

Fine particulates are produced a number of ways, but coal and diesel fuel combustion are major sources. A quick overview is available on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Web site.