Harvard University researchers have quantified the damage caused by pollution produced by idling vehicles on the road, concluding that the United States’ 83 largest urban areas had more than 2,200 premature deaths last year, reports Larry Copeland of USA Today.
The study also says that $18 billion in public health costs are linked to traffic congestion.
“Our estimates of the total public health cost of traffic congestion in the U.S. are likely conservative, in that they consider only the impacts in 83 urban areas and only the cost of related mortality and not the costs that could be associated with related morbidity “” health care, insurance, accidents and other factors,” researchers at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health reports.
Several models were used “to predict how much of what people are breathing in each urban area is attributable to emissions from traffic congestion.”
Premature deaths that resulted from people breathing in particulate matter were evaluated by researchers.
In addition, previous studies have found that motor vehicle emissions in urban areas contribute up to one-third of particulate matter, reports USA Today.
Co-author of the study Katherine von Stackelberg of the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis pointed out that when “designing and evaluating (transportation) policies,” pollution impacts should be taken into account because they do matter.
Although the number of premature deaths and the cost of public health care costs related to congestion have been declining for ten years, researchers predict that the decline will end in 2030 when the number will once again rise.
The report credits the decrease to “”¦ the continual turnover “¦ to lower emission vehicles and the increased use of cleaner fuels.”
Matt Jeanneret, a spokesperson for the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, told USA Today, “The report highlights the complete failure of elected leaders to adequately invest in new capacity for all modes of transportation.”
He continues, “Sadly, traffic congestion in America can be summed up this way: Time lost, fuel lost “” and now, lives lost.”
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