A federally funded study has revealed that cleaner air during the past twenty years has heightened the average life span in for Americans by increasing it by almost 5 months.
This is the only study so far that has shown that decreasing air pollution helps people to live longer.
The average life span expanded to almost three years, from age 74 to 77, and around 4.8 months of that can be credited to cleaner air, according to researchers from Brigham Young University and Harvard School of Public Health. These findings were reported in the January 22 issue of New England Journal of Medicine.
Some experts, such as Dr. Joel Kaufmann, have hailed the increase as remarkable. He said that our country’s endeavor to curb air pollution has been worth the costs.
For a long time, scientists have been aware that the fragments found in polluted air can get caught in the lungs and increase the likelihood of getting lung disease, strokes and heart attacks. The fragments or grit, which comes from dust, soot and other chemicals, is poured out from power plants, factories and diesel-powered vehicles.
The Environmental Protection Agency was given the power to place and execute national standards to shield people from pollutants such as particulate matter and carbon monoxide in 1970 when Congress passed an altered Clean Air Act.
Improving the air quality in the U.S. is attributed to this law and has been accomplished by adding things like catalytic converters to cars and scrubbers at new factories.
To do the study, government data was utilized for over twenty years to trace particulate pollution levels in 51 U.S. cities. Life expectancies, which were determined from death records and census information, were compared with these changes. The results were adapted to consider other aspects that could affect life expectancy, like income, smoking habits and education.
In the cities that were studied, the particulate matter levels decreased from 21 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 14 micrograms on average. During this time, people living in America lived an average of 2.72 years longer.
According to a Brigham Young epidemiologist, areas that had more reductions in air pollution had more increases in life spans. The most advancements in achieving cleaner air were seen in Pittsburgh and Buffalo, N.Y., which saw increases in life spans by almost 10 months. A life expectancy of almost 5 months was seen in Indianapolis, Los Angeles and St. Louis.
It was reported last year by government researchers that the life expectancy in the U.S. has exceeded 78 years for the first time. The researchers attributed the increase of descending mortality rates for 9 of the 15 leading causes of death, which include heart disease, cancer, accidents and diabetes.