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Cleaner Air Promotes life

Friday, January 23rd, 2009 Cleaner Air Promotes life

An interesting article reported by the BBC (22 01 08) surrounding the issues regarding clean air. It apparently has been established that cuts in air pollution in US cities over the last two decades have actually added in the region of five months to the life of its population, according to a recent survey.

It will be useful to try and critically evaluate the said report.

Notwithstanding, the New England Journal of Medicine study compared air pollution and life expectancy statistics from 51 cities between 1980 and 2000.

Notably, scientists found tha people were living 2.72 more years by the year 2000. Indeed 15% was attributed to cleaner air.

There is no argument, poor air can worsen both lung and heart capacities as air pollution from traffic hinders the heart’s ability to conduct electrical signals.

Exposure to small particulates - tiny chemicals caused by burning fossil fuels have caused worrying changes on the heart traces of 48 heart patients.

Moreover it has been suggested that in the UK air pollution still reduces the life-expectancy of it’s inhabitants by at least eight months.

This is very significant as there has been changes to ensure air is cleaner.

We as a population should take note and demand cleaner air, it is our fundamental right.

Thus from that point of view, stricter emission strategies may help us forward in tackling avoidable risk.
Moving on and identifying how the study was compiled and projected, we need to look more closely.

Brigham Young University and Harvard School of Public Health, carried out the study, using advanced statistical models to separate out the various other factors behind changes in life expectancy, such as smoking and wealth, as well as to account for migration to and from the cities studied.

In conclusion the research focused on “PM 2.5″ pollution (this measures the levels of tiny particles with a diameter one-twentieth of the width of a human hair).

Factually, these tiny particles can travel very deeply into the lungs and they are also associated with the worsening of asthma and heart disease alike.

Essentially, the research also determined that those cities that had made the biggest movement from polluted air had yielded an extra 10 months for the inhabitants, which is remarkably substantial.

In essence for every 10 micrograms per cubic metre of particulate pollution, life expectancy increased by more than seven months.
One of the researchers, Dr C Arden Pope, said it was a “remarkable” increase.

“We find that we’re getting a substantial return on our investments in improving our air quality.

“Not only are we getting cleaner air that improves our environment, but it is improving our public health.”
However, according to Professor Jonathan Ayres, a specialist in the medical effects of air pollution based at the University of Birmingham, said that similar studies had not been carried out in the UK or Europe because the necessary data had been gathered only in recent years.

In addition he also argues that the lifespan estimates “seemed a little high”.

Furthermore, he says, “There’s no doubt there are differences in the way that people in the US respond to air pollution compared to people in the UK.

“However, the research is a strong justification for the efforts that have been made to reduce pollution over the past couple of decades.”

He said that work to improve air quality in the UK had made “good progress”, with the areas of highest pollution targeted and car manufacturers persuaded to develop cleaner engines.

Despite this, he said there was some concern that levels of some types of pollution might actually rise over the next few years.

Finally, it would be pertint to suggest that more research is essential. Notwithstanding, the evidence suggested is extremely encouraging.

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