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Anti-Vaxxers Vindicated? Study Shows Measles Outbreaks Tied to Air Pollution

Many parents, fearful that vaccinating their children may cause autism, have opted to swear off vaccinations. These parents have been blamed for recent outbreaks of measles in the U.S., most notably in Disneyland in 2015. A new study suggests that such outbreaks may have other causes, and anti-vaxxers have already seized upon it as evidence for their position. But this study only applied to China, and it does not necessarily absolve the anti-vaxxers of U.S. measles outbreaks.

"We provide new evidence that measles incidence is associated with exposure to ambivalent PM2.5 in China," concluded a new study published in the journal Environmental Research. PM2.5 is a measure of the size of pollution particles in the atmosphere. This research means that high levels of pollution (which are an endemic problem throughout China) are linked to measles.

This study focused on new measles cases and levels of pollution in 21 Chinese cities between October 2013 and December 2014. The study found that when people live in areas with air polluted by particles of a certain size for three days, they are much more likely to contract measles. Pollution was even more closely related to measles on days with high temperature, low humility, and high wind speed.

The study suggested that "effective policies to reduce air pollution may also reduce measles incidence."

Natural News' Amy Goodrich, an anti-vaccine writer, seized upon the study as proof that "exposure to a germ is not the only cause of infection." She further emphasized that "the idea that we can prevent infections through vaccination alone is based on fraudulent science," according to this new research.

Goodrich also cited Green Med Info, pointing out that although the Chinese are very vaccination compliant, they have had over 700 measles outbreaks from 2009 to 2012. That site also noted that if pollution and environmental factors play a role in the development of the disease, "the toxin-tainted vaccines themselves become a plausible cause of the very disease they are designed to prevent."

Finally, Goodrich argued that measles itself isn't so bad — "the fear surrounding measles infection is highly irrational since the measles are a benign childhood disease that strengthens the human microbiome." Goodrich further argued that "since 2003 the measles vaccines has been responsible for at least 1000 deaths in the U.S. compared to less than 10 deaths caused by the illness itself."

Is measles "benign"? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the disease killed 134,200 people across the globe in 2015 — about 367 deaths every day. Spreading the vaccine, however, resulted in a 79 percent drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2015 worldwide.

In the United States, an estimated 3 to 4 million children were infected each year during the decade before 1963 when the vaccine became available, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). An estimated 400 to 500 people died each year, while 48,000 were hospitalized, and 4,000 suffered swelling of the brain. People do still die from measles, but they are few and far between, thanks largely to the vaccine.