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Road Transport Pollution Linked to Excess Deaths

Excess deaths from pneumonia particularly high

WEDNESDAY, April 16 (HealthDay News) -- High levels of air pollution caused by road transport are associated with increased rates of death from cancer and other diseases, particularly pneumonia, according to study findings published in the May issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

E.G. Knox, from Mill Cottage in Great Comberton, United Kingdom, examined the association between mortality and atmospheric pollutant levels in 352 English local authority areas from 1996-2004.

He found that after accounting for social and behavioral factors, atmospheric pollution, mainly from oil combustion, accounted for a small subgroup of excess deaths due to diseases including upper alimentary and respiratory cancers, ischemic heart disease, pneumonia and peptic ulcer. There was a particularly strong correlation between pneumonia and transport-related substances, including engine exhaust emissions.

"High mortality rates were observed in areas with elevated ambient pollution levels," Knox concludes. "The strongest single effect was an increase in pneumonia deaths. Road transport was the chief source of the emissions responsible, although it was not possible to discriminate between the different chemical components."

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