Fine dust and nitrogen oxides from the traffic are not good for the health of it hardly anyone doubts. How much pollutants do, however, is sick, is controversial and difficult to Express in formulas. In a recent study, for example, scientists have calculated that the traffic is not going to be for 385,000 in premature deaths, in Germany for 13,000 premature deaths. The Figures are taken from the environment near research Institute, ICCT (International Council on Clean Transportation), which had revealed in September 2015, the diesel scandal at VW.
Based on the size of the population to die, according to the ICCT study, nowhere have more people at an early stage to traffic fumes than in Germany. Per 100,000 population cases in this country 17 premature death, the report says. This death rate is, according to the ICCT three times as high as the global average, and is nearly 50 percent above the average of all EU countries. One of the main reasons for the high proportion of diesel vehicles that emit much particulate matter and nitrogen oxides (NOX), the result of the investigation.
What is the Problem?
A death is regarded as prematurely, if a Person dies before reaching their statistical life expectancy at birth. The unit says nothing about how much the shorter a man lives, whether he or she is considered so statistically, on average a few hours or several years, died earlier.
In the latest ICCT-the study, the researchers have calculated how much percent of the deceased in a year, statistically there still would have been alive if it hadn’t been for the pollution caused by car exhaust gases. “We have focused in the report on premature deaths because this is, for the Public to” explain the researchers in a Statement.
Exactly, however, is questionable, because even among statisticians, the unit of measurement is controversial. “First of all, not a single person of fine dust, but to diseases that can be caused by fine dust (with), it does not need to be dying in Germany,” recently criticized the statistician Katharina Schüller. At that time a study by the Max-Planck-Institute, the used also the unit of measure of “premature deaths”. Schüller has called the concept a “pattern example, the same UN statistics”.
The ICCT study assessed critically. Behind the calculation of the premature mortality data, but also assumptions about reality not put just. These are associated with an uncertainty of at least 30 percent. “Serious, from my point of view, the study suggests a precision and safety is simply not a given,” she said at the request of the MIRROR. This type of science communication was grossly negligent. “It leads to significant misinterpretations of the significance of data and statistical models in the General Public,” says Schüller.
The Problem is that the transport seems to be somewhat different than you might think. Because it is not in the case of the premature death cases, clinically identifiable cases of death, even if it sounds that way. Also the Federal environment Agency (Uba) was used in a study of premature deaths as a unit of measurement, and had been a sort of science learning.
In a statement, the Uba dismissed the criticism, however, With the indication of premature deaths you’ll never – the way it reads for most of the laity -how many real people have died before Reaching their statistical life expectancy due to fine dust and nitrogen oxides. Much more if it were “indicators for the health status of the population”, that is to say: The exhaust gases are associated with risks, which impact more generally on the life expectancy of the population, not individual, real deaths to trigger.
What are the Alternatives?
Another instrument for measuring the health effects of fine particulate matter and ozone, the life-years, the lose the people, by the exhaust gas burden (years of life lost, YLL). As a comparison the life expectancy for a man at his birth is also. In the latest ICCT study, the authors indicate that the humanity would be lost worldwide in 2015 and 7.8 million years of life due to fine dust and ozone. Spread across a world population of some 7.3 billion people, it is, therefore, something more than nine hours, which has lost a man in the cut.
That sounds much less dramatic. Clear is not likely to be that this measure is no good alone, to quantify the health hazards of fine dust and NOX makes sense – at least not in global terms. More specifically, a viewing would be, at least according to Nations, or better yet, by regions. Because the air pollution in India is greater than in Canada. But even within a country there are massive differences: So Delhi is New-as the Smog capital of the world, in the Northern Indian highlands, in contrast, the air is likely to be quite good.
A study from the August 2016 puts the lost life-time of fine dust in Germany, for example, to 0.39 years. In some African and Asian countries, in which the fine dust proportion in the air is particularly high, people lose however, thus, in the cutting of up to 1.9 years of life. In the investigation, but when it came to the General pollution of the air, and not explicitly to the one that was caused by the traffic.
A further possibility of how a particular factor impacted the health within a population, are so-called Dalys (Disability-adjusted life years). You can calculate the sum of years of life lost (YLL) and the years of life lost by disease. The unit of measurement, therefore, conveys an impression of how much a certain factor affects the health during his lifetime.
Such extrapolations are generally faced with the Problem of the health hazard of a single factor to assess correctly. An example can illustrate this: Statistically, a person who lives on a busy street dies earlier than one who lives in the countryside. The unverified conclusion that the exhaust fumes of the busy road would have to be solely responsible for the premature death, but it would be wrong. Because other factors could play a much larger role, Perhaps the man lives on the street, because he has little money and the rent is cheaper? It feeds therefore also more unhealthy and drives less Sport than the one who can afford a detached house in the country?
There are models with which such factors can be expected, however, they are associated with uncertainties. The results are therefore to be understood as an approximation and are not clearly measurable, real size.
What is the impact of nitrogen oxides on health?
Nitrogen oxides are two gaseous Compounds, which are abbreviated as NOX. The caustic irritant gas nitrogen dioxide enters mainly when Breathing in the body and penetrates to the lungs. A certain amount of it can irritate the respiratory tract and chest pain, shortness of breath and cough. People who are exposed over long periods of time, an increase in nitrogen dioxide pollution, and disease have an increased risk for Asthma, respiratory infections and cardiovascular. Especially persons with underlying conditions and children are at risk because their Airways are still developing.
Nitrogen oxide is a starting material for the formation of fine dust of another group of air pollutants, in the current debate are, in addition to ammonia and other gases.
How does the fine dust on the body?
The Problem with fine dust: the smaller the particles are, the further they penetrate into the body when they are inhaled. Fine dust particles with a size less than ten microns (PM10) remain mostly in the upper respiratory tract, i.e. the throat, the trachea or the bronchi. PM2. 5 (smaller than 2.5 micro-meters) up in the alveoli.
The ultra-fine particles (UFP) can even pass into the bloodstream and so, in principle, all regions of the body to reach and cause damage there. It is assumed that UFP cause in the blood vessels of inflammatory processes in the vessel walls, and thus the hardening of the arteries, as well as the Emergence of blood, promoting clots.
Unlike the nitrogen oxides of the harmful effect of fine dust is considered to be clearly demonstrated. Fine dust is irritating to respiratory tract and mucous membranes, so that he can make respiratory problems such as cough, shortness of breath and Asthma, arise or intensify. Also in the development of lung cancer, the particles can be involved. If you do not enter the blood, they also damage the risk for cardiovascular disease – cardiac arrhythmia, hardening of the arteries and heart attack increases.
Summary: particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen on health. High bills, estimated cases, the damage to health with premature death, however, are controversial because they suggest that real people have died from the effects of air pollution by exhaust gases. In fact, the measured variable is intended to convey an impression of the General health status of the population. Relative to Germany, 13.000 “real” people and not by exhaust gases died. The unit of measure of life lost in time avoids this misunderstanding, but it is used far too rarely.