Through the collaborative effort of Brigham Young University and Harvard School of Public Health, researchers found that cleaner air increases life expectancy. In what would seem like an obvious conclusion, they have determined that the particles in pollution such as ash, soot, diesel exhaust, and aerosol chemicals has an adverse side-affect on human health. In the study that compared data from 51 US cities over the course of 20 years, 15% of the increased life expectancy was attributed to the reduction in air pollution, totaling 5 months. With this academic data known what do we now do with this information? Is it an economic concern or societal?

The United States remains the world’s most leading contributor of CO2 emissions. On average a US household emits 59 tons of CO2 per year, while the worlds average is 8 tons per year. That is a staggering differential number. The United States spends 53 percent more on healthcare than any other country, spending $5,267 per capita. However, when spending on the environment, the United States spends $292 per capita. More of our national budget should be allocated toward improving our environment. “We find that we’re getting a substantial return on our investments in improving our air quality. Not only we are getting cleaner air that improves our environment, but it is improving our public health,” said C. Arden Pope III, lead author of the study.

Therefore, the funds that are spent improving our environment through the reduction of emissions, redesigning of our infrastructure, and the preservation of lands, will provide a reduction in pollution. The reduction in pollution will improve the health of the citizens. Healthier citizens need less medical care causing a surplus in the funds allocated to our healthcare system. The surplus funds can then be used to either fund the increase in environmental spending or used as an investment in our healthcare system, by improving the quality of it.

Pope, along with fellow researcher from Harvard, Douglas Dockery, published their research in the New England Journal of Medicine. In the last two decades we have seen many strides in environmental progression, yet we have also witness many setbacks. Many hope that the United States is set to reverse our shortcomings, and lead the environmental crusade as we did 30 years ago. If that is true, our national health will also greatly improve.