When it comes to what we can do to enjoy a healthier life, improving the quality of the air we breathe is near the top of the list. Improving air quality is also something we can address personally, and inexpensively. Comments afterwards.
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Eliminating Air Pollution Could Save More
Than 53,000 Lives Per Year, Study Says
May 26, 2022
A new study has concluded that tens of thousands of premature deaths in the U.S. could be avoided if air pollution was reduced or completely eliminated.
The study, published by researchers from the University of Wisconsin (UW) in the journal GeoHealth on Monday, notes that, by eliminating air pollution resulting from energy-related activities in the U.S., more than 53,000 premature deaths could be avoided on an annual basis. The prevention of those deaths would also save $608 million in benefits relating to illnesses and deaths caused by air pollution.
The UW researchers reached this conclusion by analyzing data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and by using health models to gauge the benefits of eliminating air-polluting particulates, including sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.
“These [particles] get deep into the
lungs and cause both respiratory
and cardiac ailments. They are
pretty much the worst pollutant
when it comes to mortality
… said Jonathan Patz, a UW professor and one of the study’s authors.
While states could still potentially save lives if they acted alone, there would be greater benefits with higher levels of cooperation, due to how these types of particulates transport themselves over state lines, noted the study’s lead author, graduate student Nicholas Mailloux. Mailloux said …
“If Wisconsin were to act alone, they
get a certain amount of benefit. But,
if they act in concert with partners in
the region or as part of a nationwide
effort, you get more benefit.”
Researchers found that reducing the amount of air-based pollutants would have a profound impact on public health in the immediate term — and that it would also have long-term positive effects when it comes to transitioning away from unsustainable energy sources and addressing the climate crisis as a whole.
Many other research studies have come to similar conclusions. A study from last year, for example, found that 74 million lives could be saved by the end of this century if energy-based air pollution was eliminated by the year 2050.
A reduction in pollutants would also likely benefit groups of people who are more susceptible than others to these types of pollutants, an EPA report stated.
“These groups include children, pregnant
women, older adults, and individuals with
pre-existing heart and lung disease,”
… the EPA said, as well as people “in low socioeconomic neighborhoods and communities [that] may be more vulnerable to air pollution.”
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In creating Garden Atrium homes, we had to be very careful to ensure high indoor air quality. When you design a home to heat itself by solar means, you have to ensure that nice warm air doesn’t leak out of the home via “infiltration” … cracks under the door or through double-hung windows. But when you seal a house tightly, you have to be certain that you’re using materials that don’t off-gas. Plus … you have to account for occupants needing O2, and exhaling CO2.
The most commonly used paint off-gases for about ten years! And the materials used in the kitchen renovation ads you see are plywood and melamine, both of which off-gas. And dyes used to color fabrics and carpeting are set with formaldehyde. We all have immune systems. But when something in our environment overtaxes what our bodies can handle, we might get rashes or wheezing or headaches, and are told that “we have allergies” – rather than our environment is causing us to have an allergic reaction.
In Garden Atrium homes, we use zero VOC paint – available in most brands, dye-free carpeting, and solid wood cabinetry. To counter the negative effects of breathing, we include (in the garden) broad-leafed plants (e.g. Birds of Paradise and Giant Peace Lilies) to soak up CO2 and emit O2. Plus, we provide Boston Ferns, which pull toxins out of the air.
Allergies from environmental causes vanish. Residents are healthier and, perhaps more important, actually feel better each day.
These adjustments in Garden Atrium homes do not throw our costs out of whack. Most can be easily achieved in your home or apartment.
In terms of outdoor air, changing to an e-car will eliminate toxic particles from fossil-fuel-based cars. Trees and shrubbery add more oxygen than cut lawns. And gardens actually pull toxins out of the air and put them into the soil. Together, you’ll be creating a healthier microclimate.