Reduced air pollution leads to longer lives

January 21, 2009 2:41:39 PM PST
Cleaner air may be more pleasant in general, but the elimination of pollution seems to be having a noticeable effect on how long we live. Cleaner air over the last two decades has added five months to the average life expectancy in the United States, according to a federally funded study in this week's New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers say this is the first study to show that reducing air pollution translates into longer lives.

Between 1978 and 200, Americans' average life span increased by almost three years, and five months of that is being linked to cleaner air.

Scientists have long known that the grit in polluted air raises the risk of lung disease, heart attacks and strokes.

Researchers say communities with the most reduction in pollution from factories and cars saw the greatest increase in life expectancy.