It's not a myth. Pollution can lead to death. At least, that's what the California Air Resources Board's (CARB) report on fine particle pollution suggests. Titled "Estimate of Premature Deaths Associated with Fine Particle Pollution in California Using the United States Environmental Protection Agency Methodology," CARB's report finds that around 9,000 annual premature deaths in California can be associated with long-term exposure to fine particle pollution emitted by diesel-powered vehicles, equipment and other machinery.

The CARB's report is based on a nationwide study of exposure to fine particle pollution involving around 500,000 people scattered across 116 U.S. cities. CARB chairman Mary Nichols spoke of the severity of pollution and its causal relationship with premature deaths this way:
There is no question particulate pollution is causing premature deaths here in California and nationwide. This study is further evidence that we are on the right track, and CARB will continue to work with truckers and equipment owners to clean up diesel emissions, improve our air quality and protect public health. CARB is committed to reducing this staggering statistic because one premature death is one too many.
We certainly agree that one premature death caused by pollutants is one too many and luckily, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does too. After reviewing CARB's report, the EPA concluded that there is a causal relationship between exposure to fine particle pollution and premature death. The EPA, CARB and several other clean-air groups will now discuss possible methods to reduce this pollution and, hopefully, the proposed solution will lead to cleaner air and longer lives.

[Source: DieselNet | Image: scazon – C.C. License 2.0]