How reducing air pollution benefits health


A new report details the drastic im
provements in health outcomes
that occurred as a result of decreasing air pollution across various countries, including the United States.
New research details the health benefits of pollution-reducing interventions.
There is no doubt that air pollution adversely affects health.
Some of the studies reported by Medical News Today have pointed to potential cardiovascular and neurological harms, as well as links between air pollution and diabetes, among other health effects.
But what is the impact of pollution-reducing public interventions on health? In the hope of answering this question, the Environmental Committee of the Forum of International Respiratory Societies in Lausanne, Switzerland, carried out an investigation.
The report appears in the American Thoracic Society’s (ATS) journal, Annals of the American Thoracic Society.
Dr. Dean Schraufnagel, from the ATS, is the lead author of the report. Dr. Schraufnagel and his team looked at air pollution interventions across the United States, Western Europe, Asia, and Africa.
One of the study’s key findings regards the effects of banning smoking in Ireland. The report found a 13% reduction in mortality from any cause, a 26% drop in the occurrence of ischemic heart disease, as well as a 32% drop in cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The report also details the outcomes of shutting down a steel mill in Utah for 13 months. Hospitals saw reduced admissions for pneumonia, pleurisy, bronchitis, and asthma as a result, particularly among children.
Closing the steel mill also cut school absenteeism by 40% and reduced daily mortality. Shutting down the steel mill for just 13 months halved the concentration of pollutants in the air.
Also, for every 100 micrograms (ìg)/cubic meters (m3) of air pollutants, closing the mill resulted in a 16% reduction in deaths.
Finally, women who were pregnant during the shutdown were far less likely to have premature births than those who were pregnant before or after it. This was especially true of women who were in their second trimester during the closure. Another instance examined by the report was the “alternative transportation strategy” implemented in Atlanta, GA, in the summer of 1996 when the city was hosting the Olympics. During this intervention, the City of Atlanta closed off parts of its downtown to private cars to help athletes travel to their events more efficiently.

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