Study analyzes traffic congestion’s link to premature deaths

Washington – Fine particulate matter emissions that can be traced back to traffic congestion in the nation’s 83 largest urban areas contributed to at least 2,200 premature deaths and accounted for at least $17.8 billion in public health costs in 2010, according to findings from a study by the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

A May 26 press release from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, which co-chairs the coalition that underwrote the study, states that the report (.pdf file) is the first attempt to quantify public health implications of increased traffic congestion in America. Findings showed the public health toll of traffic congestion was estimated to be highest in the Los Angeles/Long Beach/Santa Ana, CA area, with an estimated 426 premature deaths and $3.3 billion in public health costs in 2010.

Researchers from the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis said the number of lower-emission cars on the road today means additional premature deaths and public health costs due to traffic congestion will decline until 2030.

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