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Teen Lungs Healthier When Air Pollution Drops

April 17, 2016
Plain English Version
NEW DELHI, INDIA - (Photo by Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

NEW DELHI, INDIA – (Photo by Sanjeev Verma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

Most of the time when people resist the idea that climate matters, it is because doing something about it would cost money.

Advocates say a better climate would save money. They say productivity would go up and the number of sick days would go down.

This is the debate now and in the future.

A new study shows what improving air quality would do. Reducing pollution leads to better respiratory function in children ages 11 to 15. These are the most important years for lung development.

The lungs you have developed at that age are the lungs you will have for the rest of your life.

Scientists know that air pollution leads to smaller lung capacity and compromised breathing in children. They did not know what the effect would be on childrens’ lungs if the air quality improved.

Now they know.  Researchers monitored air quality in three communities on the west coast. The study took place over a 17-year period when air quality improved. Federal and state rules had reduced emissions from vehicles, refineries, ships and trains.

The study measured how much air the youngsters could blow in and out of a device. It also measured lung capacity.

The study found that the lung development in the children born later in the study period (when air quality had most improved) was “more robust.” unhealthy lung function dropped from 8 percent in earlier participants to 3.5 percent in the later participants.

There were no differences based on gender, race or ethnicity. The study said that clean air would increase the lifespan of people raised in those communities.

Source: The New York Times March 6, 2015

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