You may need to wear those anti-pollution masks whenever you go out, as according to a recent study, short-term exposure to air pollution may increase the risk of premature death in elderly, especially women.
According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers, short-term exposures to fine particulate air pollution and ozone -even at the levels well below current national safety standards - may increase the risk of premature death.
The findings indicated that the risk was higher in elderly, who were low-income, female, or Black.
Senior study author Francesca Dominici said that this the most comprehensive study of short-term exposure to pollution and mortality.
"We found that the mortality rate increases almost linearly as air pollution increases. Any level of air pollution, no matter how low, is harmful to human health", Dominici added.
The team assessed daily air pollution exposures using prediction models that provided accurate estimates of PM2.5 and ozone for most of the U.S.
They analysed air pollution data with mortality data population from 2000-2012 residing in 39,182 zip codes.
The results indicated that during the study period, almost 22 million people died.
The findings also indicated that in low income recipients the mortality was three times higher than that of people not eligible for Medicaid.
Women and nonwhites also faced a mortality risk that was 25 percent higher than those who were male or white.
Lead study author Qian Di said no matter where you live--in cities, in the suburbs, or in rural areas--as long as you breathe air pollution, you are at risk.
The research appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).