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04 Dec 2012: Air Quality Improvements
Continue to Yield Health Benefits

While the rate of improvement of U.S. air quality has slowed during the last decade, even those small improvements have had a beneficial effect on life expectancy, according to new research. In a study of

 

Making the Case for the
Value of Environmental Rules

Gernot Wagner Makes Case for Value of Environmental Rules
Some U.S. politicians have been attacking environmental regulations, arguing that they hurt the economy and that the costs outweigh the benefits. But, as Gernot Wagner writes, four decades of data refute that claim and show we need not choose between a clean environment and economic growth.
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545 counties across the U.S., researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that a slight decrease of fine particulate matter of 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter — known as PM2.5 — from 2000 to 2007 was associated with an average increase in life expectancy of 0.35 years. During that period, researchers say, concentrations of PM2.5 decreased by 10 micrograms per cubic meter. While that improvement in air quality was far less significant than the pollution reductions observed between 1980 and 2000, the new findings suggest that continued improvements have additional health benefits. “Despite the fact that the U.S. population as a whole is exposed to much lower levels of air pollution than 30 years ago — because of great strides made to reduce people’s exposure — it appears that further reductions in air pollution levels would continue to benefit public health,” said Andrew Correia, a Harvard researcher and lead author of the study published in the journal Epidemiology.


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