"BYU-Harvard Study Finds Cleaner Air Extends Lifespan" This is the title of the lead article in the most recent BYU online newsletter. Researchers at Brigham Young University and the Harvard School of Public Health have come to this conclusion after an extensive long-range study of 51 U.S. cities. Specifically, the study cites that on average, the life expectancy of people in these cities has increased by five months in recent decades. In the (previously) most polluted of these cities, cleaner air added about ten months to the average lifespan.
Now I'm not a scientist, and I don't need extensive scientific studies to convince me that air pollution is bad for all forms of life. So all I can say to a study like this is "well, duh." However, I do understand that backing up our claims with sound scientific research only furthers our cause, and for some people, this is the only way they will be convinced.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon at our state capitol listening to legislators debate various bills and resolutions, some of which directly apply to this argument for clean air. There is currently a bill being reviewed by a Montana State Senate committee, which would set the same emission standards for automobiles sold in Montana as those in California and about 14 other states. [These laws are not in force in these states because the EPA, under the direction of the Bush administration, stopped them, but they are currently under review by the EPA under the new administration and will likely go into effect soon.] This legislation is seen as the most cost-efficient way for the state to clean up its air. As an added bonus, the vehicles sold under this law would be more fuel-efficient and thus less expensive to use, saving the consumer money in the long run. And for those who just have to have their big rigs, there are exemptions for trucks and some SUVs.
The prospect of cleaner air is reason enough for me to support these types of laws. And, as science has now proven, cleaner air is good for us. Who wouldn't want to add five more months to her/his life?