Policy ForumClimate Change

Hidden Health Benefits of Greenhouse Gas Mitigation

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Science  17 Aug 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5533, pp. 1257-1259
DOI: 10.1126/science.1063357

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The adoption of readily available measures to lower GHG emissions in Santiago, Mexico City, São Paulo, and New York over the next two decades would also provide major public health benefits from associated reductions in particulate matter and ozone ambient concentrations. Improved technologies to reduce fossil-fuel combustion could reduce these copollutants by about 10%, and thereby avoid some 64,000 premature deaths (including infant deaths), 65,000 chronic bronchitis cases, and 37 million person-days of restricted activity or work loss in these four cities alone through 2020. If the substantial public health benefits we have charted here become more widely recognized, and their full economic and social impact are integrated into discussions of climate policy, this could prompt a major rethinking of the climate debate and help break through the present impasse.