Reduced air pollution significantly improves health

Reduced air pollution significantly improves health

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How reduced air pollution affects health

According to a recent study, reducing air pollution quickly leads to significant improvements in health and a decrease in morbidity. This shows how important it is that measures are immediately taken to reduce air pollution.

A recent study by the University of Illinois at Chicago found that reduced air pollution quickly has a positive impact on our health and can prevent premature death. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Annals of the American Thoracic Society".

What did a smoking ban do in Ireland?

The study looked at interventions that have already been carried out that have reduced air pollution. For example, a smoking ban in Ireland after just a week resulted in a 13 percent drop in all-cause mortality, a 26 percent reduction in ischemic heart disease, a 32 percent reduction in stroke, and a 38 percent decrease in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Interestingly, the non-smokers benefited the most from the interventions.

Factory fumes endanger our health

In the United States, for example, a 13-month shutdown of a steel mill in Utah resulted in halved hospitalizations in the area due to pneumonia, pleurisy, bronchitis, and asthma. If women were pregnant at the time the factory closed, this reduced the risk of premature birth.

How does a restriction of road traffic affect?

Another example is a strategy that was used during the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. Parts of the city have been closed to traffic to make it easier for athletes to get to their events. One consequence of this measure was that air pollution was reduced significantly. In the following four weeks, hospitalizations for children with asthma also decreased by more than 40 percent and there were 11 percent fewer cases of emergency admissions due to asthma. Longer hospital stays for asthma also decreased by 19 percent.

Lung function improved within two months

When China introduced operating and travel restrictions for the Beijing Olympics, people's lung function improved within two months. This was shown by fewer asthma-related visits to the doctor and less cardiovascular mortality.

Reduced perinatal mortality from indoor clean air

The reduction of indoor air pollution also led to health benefits. In Nigeria, reduced indoor air pollution during pregnancy made it possible for infants to have a higher birth weight and lower perinatal mortality.

Benefits from reduced air pollution were surprisingly quick

It has already been known that there are benefits to human health from reducing air pollution. However, the researchers were surprised at how quickly significant improvements occurred after a relatively short period of time. The results suggest that the health effects are almost immediate and significant once the pollution from air pollution is reduced.

We can no longer remain inactive

Air pollution is largely an avoidable health risk that affects all of us. Urban growth, increasing industrialization, global warming and new knowledge about the damage caused by air pollution increase the urgency of environmental protection and emphasize the consequences of inaction.

The right measures could reduce overall mortality in a few weeks

Fortunately, reducing air pollution can lead to rapid and significant health improvements. A comprehensive policy that affects an entire country could, according to the study, reduce overall mortality for an entire country within a few weeks. Local programs, such as reducing traffic, can also immediately improve health. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Dean E. Schraufnagel, John R. Balmes, Sara De Matteis, Barbara Hoffman, Woo Jin Kim et al .: Health Benefits of Air Pollution Reduction, in Annals of the American Thoracic Society (query: 06.12.2019), Annals of the American Thoracic Society

Video: Air Pollution: Its Impact on Health and Possible Solutions - Professor Chris Whitty (July 2022).


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