(HealthDay News) – Achieving more stringent primary ozone standards could lead to considerable reductions in ozone-related premature deaths, acute respiratory symptoms, and lost school days, according to a study published online July 18 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Jesse D Berman, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues estimated the number of deaths and other adverse health outcomes that would have been avoided in 2005, 2006, and 2007 if current National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) limits of 75 parts per billion (ppb) had been achieved. Additionally, the health benefits associated with even lower limits of 70 and 60 ppb were also estimated.

If the current 75 ppb standard had been attained, the researchers estimated that 1,410–2,480 ozone-related annual premature deaths would have been avoided. In addition, there would have been three million fewer cases of acute respiratory symptoms, and one million lost school days could have also been prevented. With even lower limits of 70 and 60 ppb, the annual numbers of avoided ozone-related premature deaths were estimated at 2,450 to 4,130 and 5,210 to 7,990, respectively.

“Our findings suggest that attainment of the 75 ppb ozone NAAQS would prevent over 1,000 annual premature mortalities nationally, with substantial additional health benefits afforded from stricter air quality standards of 70 and 60 ppb,” the authors write. “Our analysis indicates that reducing ozone concentrations to levels proposed by the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee would result in dramatic public health benefits.”

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