HealthDay News — Reductions in air pollution yield prompt and substantial health benefits, according to research published in the December issue of the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.
In a focused review article, Dean E. Schraufnagel, M.D., from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and colleagues address the potential beneficial impact on health of reducing pollution.
The researchers note that reducing air pollution can result in prompt and substantial health gains. An Irish indoor smoking ban had an impact starting from week 1, with reductions in all-cause mortality, ischemic heart disease, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; at one month, workers experienced decreased wheeze, dyspnea, cough, phlegm, irritated eyes, painful throat, nasal itch, runny nose, and sneeze. Within weeks of a steel mill closure, respiratory symptoms, school absenteeism, daily mortality, and premature births decreased. Asthmatic symptoms improved four weeks after home heater change. Use of clean cook stoves during pregnancy resulted in higher birth weights, older gestational age at delivery, and less perinatal mortality. A reduction in Swiss air pollution resulted in a decrease in respiratory deaths and cardiac deaths at six years. U.S pollution tracking resulted in a life expectancy increase at seven years for each 10 µg/m² reduction of fine particulate matter.
“Our findings indicate almost immediate and substantial effects on health outcomes followed reduced exposure to air pollution,” Schraufnagel said in a statement. “It’s critical that governments adopt and enforce World Health Organization guidelines for air pollution immediately.”