Emissions from coal-burning power plant (Credit: U.S. Department of Energy)
Using data collected by the U.S. EPA, researchers from MIT have calculated the likely number of premature deaths caused by poor air quality, according to a release from the school. They say that around 200,000 premature deaths nationwide are owed to polluted air annually.
The group acquired data from the agency’s National Emissions Inventory, with the most recent coming from the year 2005. They then split the data into sectors covering the most common sources of air pollution.
Emissions data were then fed into a software program that simulated the impact the emissions had on air quality in the atmosphere. The simulation was then paired with maps of population density to see which areas were most exposed to the polluted air.
The researchers found emissions from road transportation contributed the most to total premature deaths, at 53,000, followed closely by those from electricity generation, at 52,000.
Image: Emissions from coal-burning power plant (Credit: U.S. Department of Energy)