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Cleaner Air Translates To Longer Life

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, January 22, 2009 10:23 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Environment, Environmental Pollution, Lung Disease, Public Health, New England Journal of Medicine, Air Quality, Air Pollution

Air particulates are leading to reduced months of life this study concludes.



IMAGE SOURCE : WikiMedia Commons/ Pasadena Highway, Los Angeles, 2007/ author: Aliazimi 


Cleaner air translates to a longer life.  That is the conclusion of a new study by researchers at Brigham Young University and Harvard School of Public Health.

In 51 cities around the country, the life expectancy has increased by nearly five months in the cities with the cleanest air.  

“Life expectancy is a well-understood indicator for public,” said C. Arden Pope III, to ABC News. He is the lead author of the study and an epidemiologist at Brigham Young University.

The smallest particles of air pollution are known as “PM2.5” and they are so small that lining up 25 of them end to end to reach the width of a human hair.  The problem is that the tiny particles can imbed deeply into the respiratory system when inhaled from polluted air.

For every decrease of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of particulate pollution in a city, residents there had an additional seven months of life span. The cities studies experienced reduced air pollution levels during the time period studied from the 1980s and 1990s.

In 1997, air pollution standards were tightened by the Environmental Protection Agency. This research concludes it may be time to tighten them further.

This study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine  is the first time that life span has been attached to air pollution.

Last May, research from the California Air Resources Board found that up to 24,000 deaths a year among Californians are linked to air pollution. That is triple the previous estimate and may be shaving off up to 10 years of life of state residents.

The good news is even if the levels of pollution are cut temporarily, the reduction death rates are immediate. Researchers noted that happened in Dublin, Ireland when it imposed a coal ban and in Hong Kong when it reduced sulfur dioxide.  #

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