Cleaner Air Means Healthier Children

A 20-year study released yesterday by the University of Southern California (USC) researchers found that better air quality resulted in improved lung development in children. We don’t often see good news in air pollution studies, and this research shows that the policies we’ve been advocating for decades are paying off in real health improvements.

The USC Children’s Health Study measured lung development between the ages of 11 and 15 in three groups of children from 1994-1998, 1997-2001, and 2007-2011. Researchers found that the children studied from 2007-2011 showed large gains in lung development over the previous groups. The improvements in lung function were associated with reductions in air pollution and cleaner skies in Southern California.

Pollution down, lung health up Lung growth from age 11 to 15 was more than 10 percent greater in children studied in from 2007-2011 than the children studied from 1994-1998. The number of children with abnormally low lung function at age 15 dropped from nearly 8 percent for the 1994-1998 cohort to 3.6 percent in the 2007-2011 cohort. Exposure to nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter fell 33% and 47%, respectively, for the 2007-2011 cohort compared with the first 1994-1998 cohort.

This is fantastic news! It’s a reminder of why we at CCA work so hard for clean air. We believe everyone in California has a right to clean air and healthy lives. This study shows that improving air quality does improve the health of children. That said, we still have quite a bit of work to do. CCA President Joe Lyou lays out our road ahead in this Annenberg TV News segment.

The study appears in the March 5, 2015 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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