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BYU researcher authors editorial in top medical journal

Piece in New England Journal of Medicine highlights air pollution research

Internationally recognized air pollution researcher Arden Pope, a Brigham Young University economics professor, authored an editorial in the new issue of the New England Journal of Medicine that provides an overview of progress in combating the adverse health effects of dirty air.

The piece was commissioned because of a new University of Southern California study in the same issue of the journal that found children in smoggy areas can have their lung development permanently stunted. Pope acknowledged the new study as important and part of a growing body of research that highlights a preventable health risk.

"From at least one perspective, the overall results of research involving air pollution are good news — the control of air pollution represents an important opportunity to prevent disease," Pope wrote.

Pope published several landmark air pollution studies that have helped shaped public policy. He teamed with Harvard researchers to report risks associated with tiny airborne particles causing heart and lung problems in two studies published in the mid-1990s. Automobile and manufacturing industry groups attacked the research as faulty science, and their scorn grew when the Environmental Protection Agency used the studies as the basis for tightening pollution standards in 1997. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the EPA in February 2001 after an industry lawsuit challenged the new regulations.

In 2002, Pope was the lead author on a Journal of the American Medical Association study that established air pollution as a cause of many lung cancer deaths, and last year he published a study linking pollution to certain types of heart disease.

Writer: Rebekah Hanson

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