Cow study confirms effects of air pollution on health

Summary

A study by a Hasselt researcher showed significant increases in cow mortality when ozone, nitrogen dioxide and fine dust particles in the air were higher

Harmful effect

A Hasselt University researcher has found that more cows die when there are higher amounts of ozone, nitrogen dioxide and fine dust in the air. The findings confirm those concerning the effects of air pollution on people.

Environmental epidemiologist Bianca Cox examined the effects of air pollution on cows, because the animals are not subject to other causes that can harm the health of people,  like smoking, unhealthy eating habits or alcohol. She could thus more accurately measure the precise effects of air pollution on mortality.

“The biggest effect was found when measuring the amount of nitrogen dioxide in the air,” Cox told Belga. “On days when there was 10 micrograms more nitrogen dioxide in the air than normal, we noticed an increase of 9.4% of the cow mortality.” For ozone and fine dust, the percentage was lower, but there was still a significant increase in the number of cows dying.

In summer, the effects of air pollution were much larger on cows, probably  because they were then grazing outside. In winter, the effects were smaller, as the cows were stabled.

Cox’s research cannot be used to generalise the precise effect of air pollution on human mortality, but confirm the general harmful effect of air pollution on health.