There's a clear link between short-term exposure (up to 24 hours) to smog (ozone) and premature deaths, says a study released Tuesday by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.
"The committee has concluded from its review of health-based evidence that short-term exposure to ambient ozone is likely to contribute to premature deaths," said the 13-member panel, the Associated Press reported.
They said more research is needed on long-term chronic smog exposure, where the risk of premature death "may be larger than those observed in acute effects studies alone."
The findings challenge the White House stance on the issue.
"The report is a rebuke of the Bush administration which has consistently tried to downplay the connection between smog and premature death," Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, a Washington-based advocacy organization, told the AP.
The Academy's findings "refutes the White House skepticism and denial" of a proven link between acute ozone exposure and premature deaths, said Vickie Patton, deputy general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund. She noted that the Bush administration has used such arguments to question the health benefits of reducing air pollution.