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Environment & Science

It’s official: The air in Los Angeles can kill you

The Los Angeles downtown skyline is enveloped in smog shortly before sunset
The Los Angeles downtown skyline is enveloped in smog shortly before sunset
David McNew/Getty Images

Most citizens of Los Angeles don’t need a survey to tell them that it’s the most stressful city of America. Still, when Forbes crunched a bunch of numbers including quality of life data, unemployment rates, housing affordability, etc, good old L.A. clocked in at #1.

While we know that stress can lead to a myriad of health issues and according to some, even death. Not exactly the feel-good statistic of the week, but hey, this is Los Angeles. Deal with it.

If that statistic is grim, it’s about to get even worse. According to a new study by the Environmental Protection Agency, just living in Los Angeles can kill you. To be more specific, the rampant air pollution that blankets Southern California is what can actually get you in the end.

Published in the journal Risk Analysis, the study (based on 2005 air quality) estimates that anywhere from 130,000 to 360,000 premature adult deaths in SoCal going forward. They’ve linked the poor air quality to everything from asthma, bronchitis and trips to the ER. In L.A. County, city of Los Angeles led the pack with 10 percent of deaths directly linked to air pollution.

Oh, there’s more. In direct opposition to the cliché that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, yet another study (this one from the Archives of Internal Medicine) links SoCal air pollution to (gulp) brain damage and dementia. In short, we can’t catch a break around here.

“We, as a society, are on the verge of dealing with an unprecedented number of people having dementia,” warned Jennifer Weuve, a researcher at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center and leader of the study (which examined the effects of course particulate matter on older women) to the Huffington Post. “We know relatively little about how to prevent dementia, but we do know cognitive decline is related to dementia.”

Dementia, death, and brain damage — this is really starting to feel like a prequel to “The Walking Dead.” I’m definitely in the market for a few of those designer medical face-masks that were all the rage in Japan a few years ago…