Air Pollution Getting Worse, Causing Early Deaths Among Seniors
Air pollution in the United States is getting worse and it’s becoming a serious health problem for senior citizens, according to a new study.
Air quality declined according to a recent analysis by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It declined by 5.5 percent. This data is based on nationwide averages measured between 2016 to 2018. Moreover, this sudden decline comes after ten years of air quality improvement.
And, as a result of declining air quality, senior citizens life expectancy declined while also causing serious lung and other respiratory complications.
Air Pollution: Study Results
The reason for this increased air pollution is the rise in microscopic particulate matter, known as PM2.5. This PM2.5 comes from car emissions, trucking exhaust, soot, smoke from wildfires, volatile compounds from factories, and the burning of natural gases.
Air quality measurements were taken from 653 counties across the United States, from 2009 to 2018.
Most alarming was the increase in air pollution linked to 9,700 additional premature deaths of adults over age 30 — and about 18,000 years of life lost among senior citizens.
In California alone, 1,400 deaths are linked to air pollution from wild life fires in 2018.
According to research scientists of this study, inhaling microscopic particles from pollution penetrate the deepest part of the lungs, and cause inflammation.
Lung inflammation in seniors can cause scarring, fibrosis of lung tissue, shortness of breath, and fatigue. For seniors already suffering from emphysema, breathing polluted air brings on chronic coughing.
Air Pollution: Many Other Health Risks
Pollution of the air has also causes other health risks beyond lung disease. It includes heart disease, dementia, osteoporosis, and even urinary and bladder cancer.
For example, a study published in The Lancet found that long-term exposure to air pollution causes atherosclerosis, a major cause of heart attack and stroke. Older adults and those with hypertension are the most vulnerable.
Other respiratory illnesses include dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. This includes emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and asthma.
For senior citizens considering retirement, the cleanest air quality cities in the United States are Cheyenne, Wyoming; Kahului-Wailuku-Lahaina, Hawaii; Honolulu, Hawaii; Casper, Wyoming; and St. George, Utah.