Cleaner air has positive impact on life expectancy

January 29, 2009

I’ve found this interesting article and thought it would also fit on our blog as we are focusing on “healthy aging”. The article was first posted on the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.

Researchers at Brigham Young University and Harvard School of Public Health have released a study suggesting that a reduction in air pollutants in 51 U.S. cities between 1980 and 2000 has added an average of five months to life expectancy. Moreover, residents in cities that made the most significant improvements in air quality, such as Pittsburgh, PA, can expect to live almost 10 months longer.

The research compared changes in air pollution from 1980 to 2000 with residents’ life expectancies during those years. Other factors that can affect average life expectancy, such as changes in population, income, education and cigarette smoking, were taken into account. After adjusting for these and other factors, the researchers determined that for every microgram per cubic meter decrease in fine-particulate air pollution, life expectancies rose by more than seven months. “There is an important positive message here that the efforts to reduce particulate air pollution concentrations in the United States over the past 20 years have led to substantial and measurable improvements in life expectancy,” says study co-author Douglas Dockery, Chair, Department of Environmental Health at Harvard School of Public Health.

It is widely accepted that fine-particulate air pollution is known to contribute to cardiovascular and lung disease. The particulate matter is inhaled much like a gas and is believed to increase blood pressure, the risk of heart attack and the possibility of a heart disease-related death.

News releases: Drop in U.S. air pollution linked to longer lifespans January 21, 2009; Americans owe five months of their lives to cleaner air Newswise January 16, 2009