The study of 500,000 urbanites expands upon previous research showing that the dust released by cars and trucks, coal-fired power plants and factory smokestacks causes health risks for those living in many big cities and even some smaller ones, according to the researchers from Brigham Young University and New York University.
The research, which appeared in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association, involved a half million adults who participated in an American Cancer Society prevention study. The researchers examined participants' health records from 1982 through 1998 and analyzed data on annual air pollution averages in the more than 100 cities in which participants lived.
On average, people living in the most polluted cities had about a 12 percent increased risk of dying of lung cancer per year than those in the least polluted cities, the study showed.
An NYU environmental scientist, George Thurston, said the risks were identical to those faced by nonsmokers who live with smokers and are exposed long-term to secondhand cigarette smoke.
However, the EPA will consider further research as part of its continuing review of air quality standards for particulate matter.