Life Expectancy Shortened by Air Pollution

Posted on Jul 31, 2013 in Environment, Health & Wellness, Medical Rewind

Taking action to cut air pollution in your community could add years to your life.

Northern China is the most polluted part of that country, with some of the worst air quality on Earth. The Associated Press reported July 9 that researchers estimate that people who live there can expect their lives to end years sooner than people who live elsewhere in China.

Air pollution in northern China was exacerbated by a decades-long policy of giving residents free coal for heating. Those in the southern part of the country didn’t receive the free coal. Researchers found that particulate pollution levels in the north were 55 percent higher than in the south and — based on mortality data for the years 1991-2000 — life expectancy was 5-1/2 years shorter.

The shorter lifespans in the north were almost entirely attributed to higher rates of deaths from cardiorespiratory diseases like lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other respiratory illnesses.

The study suggests that life expectancy at birth is reduced three years for every additional 100 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic meter in the atmosphere — a metric that can be applied to other communities globally.

The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Written by Bob Curley at Well-Being Wire on July 10, 2013