A Breath of Fresh Air in Children’s Lung Study

Good air quality can mean breathing a little easier.

Sound like common sense to you? Well, for the first time, researchers are showing that better air (and less pollution) means better respiratory function in kids ages 11 through 15, when lung development is especially crucial.

Earlier this month, the New England Journal of Medicine released research associated with the Children’s Health Study. The study, which measured lung function in children, showed that long-term improvements in air quality were associated with positive effects of lung growth in children.

The results provide evidence that better air quality – a result of stricter regulation – improves health, according to the New York Times.

For many years, Los Angeles had the highest levels of photochemical air pollutants in the U.S. Over 17 years of conducting research, federal and state standards were passed that lowered the acceptable output levels of California’s automobiles, diesel trucks, refineries, ships and trains, and set aggressive goals to reach by 2020 in an effort to improve air quality.

In light of these goals, some impressive strides were made. From 1994-2011, California particulates fell by 50 percent and nitrogen dioxide levels by 35 percent in the communities in which the study was conducted. These changes were representative of declining pollution in the Los Angeles basin.

What does better air mean for overall health?

A 10 percent improvement in lung function may translate into five-or-six year delays in the onset of clinical lung disease, according to Dr. Joel Kaufman in the Times.

A high level of lung function in early adulthood may decrease the risk of respiratory conditions, according to the study’s conclusion findings.

Green Mountain provides residential customers with energy made from renewable resources like the wind and sun, rather than coal.

Check out this blog on lessons learned from the blackout of summer 2003. Research showed that there was a dramatic reduction in air pollution when coal-fired power plants were shut down. The blackout was an unfortunate event that affected millions. But it taught us a valuable lesson about the importance of supporting renewable energy.