There is a strong negative correlation between greenhouse gases and air quality. As greenhouse gases increase, smog levels increase. People with asthma and other ongoing lung problems are especially at risk from rising ground-level ozone. Also of concern is something called particulate air pollution. This results in particulate matter (a mix of very small drops of liquid with small particles), which when breathed in can deeply penetrate the lungs.
Similarly, a general rise in average temperatures doesn't bode well for a number of segments of the population. The elderly, people with heart problems, asthmatics, young children and those living on the streets are especially exposed and vulnerable to increased heat, which is seen when greenhouse gases increase.
In 2008, a scientist from Stanford used computer modeling and the latest and greatest in environmental process data to draw a direct correlation between increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and human mortality. The study contended that for each increase of 1 degree Celsius that's caused by carbon dioxide emissions, about a thousand deaths would result each year in the United States and about 20,000 deaths globally. It would also result in a great increase in the number of incidences of asthma and other respiratory ailments [source: Science Daily].
At greatest immediate risk, the computer modeling study contended, are cities that are already experiencing a high degree of air pollution. The ill health-effects of increased carbon dioxide is most pronounced in such places. It's no surprise, then, that the study cited California as especially at risk for worsening air-quality-related health. The state has the dubious distinction of having six of the U.S.'s top 10 most-polluted cities, and upwards of 30 percent of those 1,000 extra deaths per year came from California, according to the model [source: Science Daily].
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