Air pollution is shaving years from people’s lives. Where is it claiming the most?


People could add years to their lives in California and other smog-plagued parts of the world if authorities could reduce particulate pollution — soot from cars and industry — to levels recommended by the World Health Organization, a new study reported Monday.

No other large U.S. city would benefit more than Fresno, which has soot concentrations at roughly twice the WHO guidelines. Fresno residents would live a year longer if the region could meet the health organization’s recommended levels of exposure, according to Monday’s study by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.

The average Los Angeles resident could add eights months of life. The average Sacramento resident would add nearly three.

In recent weeks, millions of Californians have been choking on high levels of particulates, due to smoke from raging wildfires. This week’s study doesn’t account for that, but instead focuses on everyday levels of soot and fine particles, produced largely by vehicle exhaust and other burning of fossil fuels. Worldwide, this exposure reduces average life expectancy by 1.8 years, comparable to the impacts of smoking cigarettes, according to the study’s authors.

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