Relative Danger of Energy Sources


3. How many will die this decade from non-carbon transport pollution in the US (particulates, ozone, etc)?    
< 100          100 – 1,000           1,000 – 10,000        10,000 - 100,000       > 100,000

Transportation particulates, particularly diesel, used to kill about as many Americans yearly as did coal, but diesel fuel is being cleaned up. There is significant cost to agriculture and ecosystems as well.

EPA estimates that the recent shift to ultra low sulfur diesel (pollution control devices are destroyed by sulfur) will prevent 8,300 premature deaths, 5,500 case of chronic bronchitis, and 18,000 cases of acute bronchitis in children. EPA does not provide estimates on how many deaths and illnesses are still caused by transportation pollution. (Note: it would be useful to Americans if EPA were called upon to provide estimates of the health and environmental harm done by various energy sources. It would facilitate better policy decisions.)

Cars and industry are responsible for volatile organic compounds (VOC), an important contribution to ozone and smog.

The rest of this answer repeats information, more or less, in the answer to coal #2.

There is a connection between particulates and asthma.

Daily asthma presentations to the Emergency Department of Royal Darwin Hospital
and 24-hour mean PM
10 concentrations, Darwin, April – October 2000
particulates and asthma
  PM10 are particles less than 10 millionths of a meter.

Check out your part of the US on a map of premature mortality due to PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5 millionths of a meter) on an introduction to the health effects of various pollutants.

Ozone is responsible for 10 - 20% of summertime respiratory emergency visits in the US northeast and harms other animal and plants as well, particularly long-living plants such as trees.

Ozone targets alveoli, the oxygen exchangers, and the bronchioles.ozone and health

Ozone harms Christmas holly.

Bell, et al, looks at 95 large American cities and estimates 4,000 Americans die yearly from short term effects of higher ozone concentrations. The National Academy of Sciences calculates 30,000 lives could be saved annually worldwide by 2030 simply by producing less ozone by reducing natural gas emissions 20%.

Nitrogen oxides (NOx) contribute to the formation of ozone. NOx also cause cardiovascular disease and respiratory disease, but can harm other parts of the body as well. Along with sulfur dioxide, it is a major cause of acid rain (15% to 25%). NOx harm the soil, with great cost to both agriculture and forests. The majority of US ground level ozone in most urban areas, almost half nationwide, comes from transportation.

Cars and industry are responsible for volatile organic compounds (VOC), an important contribution to ozone and smog.

World Health Organization estimates that 3 million die annually from outdoor air pollution (plus 1.6 million from indoor air pollution from the use of solid fuels such as dung, wood, crop waste, or coal.)

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