Less Air Pollution Linked to Higher Life Expectancy
Cleaner air accounts for 15 percent of overall life expectancy increase over last few decades
25 jan 2009 -- Reductions in air pollution over the last few decades in the United States are associated with increases in life expectancy, researchers report in the Jan. 22 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
C. Arden Pope III, Ph.D., from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and colleagues examined life expectancy in the United States based on fine-particulate air pollution (aerodynamic diameter of 2.5 μm or less) in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The investigators found that life expectancy increased by a mean of 0.61 years with each 10 μg per cubic meter drop in fine particulate matter. As much as 15 percent of the overall increase in life expectancy during this period could be explained by reductions in air pollution, the authors note. The increase in life expectancy was largely independent of socioeconomic and demographic factors, and measures of the prevalence of cigarette smoking, the researchers report.
"Although multiple factors affect life expectancy, our findings provide evidence that improvements in air quality have contributed to measurable improvements in human health and life expectancy in the United States," Pope and colleagues conclude.