Two Studies Say Clean Air Saves Lives, Money. Shocker?

Mar 2, 2011· 0 MIN READ
Salvatore Cardoni holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.
Is the air around the Eiffel Tower really as clean as it looks? (Photo: Jacky Nagelen)

The release of separate air-quality studies confirms two facts that big business seems to want to deny: clean air not only keeps people from dying, it saves bundles of cash too.

By 2020, the Clean Air Act will have saved $2 trillion and 230,000 annual deaths in the United States, according to a report released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Meanwhile, across the pond, slashing air pollution in Europe’s biggest cities could win a double jackpot: 22 months tacked on to local life expectancy, and $43.4 billion saved in health costs. The study was conducted by Aphekom, in conjunction with the French Institute for Public Health Surveillance.

The release of the EPA study was, in part, political.

For weeks now, business groups have targeted the agency, saying its regulations stifle economic growth, reports Bloomberg.

Hugh Joyce, president of James River Air Conditioning Inc. in Richmond, Virginia, said new construction is down and winning a permit takes more than six months. He said environmental regulations cost his company, with 150 employees, about $150,000 each year.

In Europe, the three-year study found that air in several major cities has a fine particulate matter level above 10 micrograms per cubic meter, which is the limit recommended by the World Health Organization.

The cities are: London—13.1; Paris—16.4; Barcelona—27; Bucharest—38.2.

According to USA Today, if inhaled, these particulates can lead to “respiratory and cardiovascular disease.”