Cleaner, pollutant-free air adds almost 5 months to our lives. So say the results of an interesting study published in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine. The study, headed by an epidemiologist at Brigham Young University (BYU), tracked the correlation between particulate pollution levels and life expectancy over 2 decades in 51 U.S. cities. Researchers say it’s the first to illustrate that reducing air pollution can translate into a longer lifespan. How’s that for a reason to make an air purifier a permanent part of your environment?
During the course of the research, which spanned from 1978 to 2001, 51 metropolitan U.S. cities reduced their pollution levels by one-third, slashing the amount of small airborne particles from 21 micrograms per cubic meter to 14 micrograms per cubic meter. All the while, the life expectancy in these cities saw an average increase of 2.7 years, from 74.3 to 77 years of age. According to the findings, as much as 4.8 months of this increase can be attributed to cleaner air. Although environmental health experts point out that BYU’s report doesn’t exactly prove that cleaner air contributes to a longer life, many agree that it makes a strong scientific argument to continue reducing air pollution, even if the methods used are pricey.
Residents and office-dwellers should note that reducing the amount of harmful airborne particles indoors is just as important as tackling them outdoors. After all, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the air inside our homes and buildings is roughly 10 times more polluted than the air outside. While we may not have a lot of control over the amount of pollution we encounter outdoors, we can definitely control how much is present in our indoor environments day after day.
Regularly running an air cleaner can help filter out a wide range of airborne pathogens. Consider a unit from the Austin Air purifier line, which includes machines designed to remove dust, mold, and pet allergens as well as odor and gas traces.
Getting into the habit of using chemical-free cleaners and cleaning systems can also help curb the amount of irritating – and often highly toxic – chemical vapors introduced into your environment. Ladybug steam cleaners allow you to clean and disinfect your upholstery, carpets, hard floors, and other hard surfaces using 100% natural vapor steam instead of harsh, smelly sprays. Verilux UV sanitizing wands are just as effective for smaller areas. These high-tech wands use pure ultraviolet light to eliminate bacteria, viruses, and allergens from household surfaces such as countertops, bedding, and bathroom fixtures.
You should also monitor the air quality within your home or workplace on a regular basis to determine if it is unsafe, so you can take steps to correct it. A laser particle counter can be used to measure the concentration of potentially harmful airborne particles quickly and accurately. Do-it-yourself allergy testing kits can alert you to unhealthy concentrations of dust mites, mold, and chemicals such as formaldehyde. In addition, indoor gas detectors will let you know if the air you breathe is plagued by invisible toxic gases like carbon monoxide, methane, propane, or radon.