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New Study Says Long-term Exposure To Air Pollution Can Be Equivalent To Smoking A Pack A Day




A layer of pollution can be seen hovering over Los Angeles, California on October 17, 2017, where even though air quality has improved in recent decades, smog levels remain among the nations's worst, with wildfires in the region also contributing to poor air quality.
A layer of pollution can be seen hovering over Los Angeles, California on October 17, 2017, where even though air quality has improved in recent decades, smog levels remain among the nations's worst, with wildfires in the region also contributing to poor air quality.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

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Air pollution, especially ground-level ozone, can be linked to increases in emphysema, even among non-smokers and long-term exposure to higher-than-average levels of ozone leads to lung damage similar to that seen in smokers. 

That’s according to a new study spanning 18 years with more than 7,000 participants in six cities across the county, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore, New York, Winston-Salem, N.C., and St. Paul, Minnesota. Researchers also found that while airborne pollutants have been declining in the U.S., ozone levels have been increasing, in part due to climate change.

The study was published in JAMA earlier this week and was led by researchers at the University of Washington, Columbia University and the University of Buffalo. 

For more, we speak with an author of the study and a local expert who’s been researching the effects of pollution right here in Los Angeles.

Guests:

R. Graham Barr, professor of medicine and epidemiology at Columbia University and senior author of the study

Edward Lawrence Avol, professor of clinical preventive medicine at USC; his research focuses on the effects of airborne pollutants in populations at risk