Research: Clean Air Reduces Mortality And Morbidity. Is It Really?

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Research: Clean Air Reduces Mortality And Morbidity. Is It Really?
Research: Clean Air Reduces Mortality And Morbidity. Is It Really?

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Research: Clean air reduces mortality and morbidity. Is it really?

Reducing air pollution is rapidly leading to dramatic changes in human health, according to a new US study. Scientists cite many examples of how people seek less medical care, mortality and morbidity decrease when the air becomes cleaner.

Research: Clean air reduces mortality and morbidity. Is it really?
Research: Clean air reduces mortality and morbidity. Is it really?

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Reducing air pollution is rapidly leading to dramatic changes in human health, according to a new US study by the Environment Committee of the International Respiratory Societies Forum. Scientists cite many examples of how people seek less medical care, mortality and morbidity decrease when the air becomes cleaner.

A report published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society looked at measures to reduce the sources of air pollution. The health improvements that followed were found to be striking.

For example, since the first week of the ban on smoking in public places in Ireland, mortality from all causes has decreased by 13%, coronary heart disease by 26%, stroke by 32%, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by 38%. Non-smokers gained the greatest benefit in this case.

“We were aware of the benefits of pollution control, but the scale and relatively short time to reach them was impressive. It is critical that governments immediately accept and enforce WHO's air pollution guidelines,”said Dean Schraufnagel, lead author of the report.

In the United States, the 13-month closure of a steel mill in Utah reduced the risk of preterm birth, pleurisy, bronchitis, asthma, and halved hospitalizations for pneumonia. Absenteeism fell by 40% and daily mortality fell by 16% for every 100 µg / m³ of pollutant reduction.

Atlanta's "transportation strategy" during the 1996 Olympics, which closed parts of the city for 17 days for the convenience of athletes, also significantly reduced air pollution. Over the next four weeks, clinic visits for pediatric asthma dropped by more than 40%, emergency department visits by 11%, and asthma hospital admissions by 19%.

Likewise, when manufacturing and travel restrictions were imposed during the Olympics, Beijing residents improved lung function over two months, decreased asthma-related visits, and decreased cardiovascular mortality.

Reducing indoor air pollution also had significant health benefits. In Nigeria, pregnant women with “clean” stoves (full combustion or ventilation) had higher birth weight and gestational age and lower perinatal mortality.

“Air pollution is a largely preventable health risk that affects everyone. Wide policy coverage across a country can reduce all-cause mortality in a matter of weeks. Local programs such as traffic reduction also quickly improved many health criteria,”concluded Schraufnagel.

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