Study: Short-term reductions in air pollution dramatically improve health

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Traffic comes to a stand still on the northbound and the southbound lanes of the Interstate 405. A new USC study says even a tiny reduction in air pollution would vastly improve city-dweller's cardiovascular health.

A new USC study that used Beijing, China as a laboratory suggests that even a short-term reduction in air pollution can improve cardiovascular health.

The findings of the just-released, USC-led study stem from research done in Beijing during the 2008 Summer Olympics.

The scientists chose Beijing because in order to land the games the city, which suffers from some of the worst air-pollution in the world, agreed to temporarily clean its air by shutting down factories and limiting auto traffic.

That offered scientists a rare opportunity to research how air pollution levels affect the cardiovascular health of young people.

For the study, the scientists enlisted 125 non-smoking, healthy male and female doctors who worked in Beijing.

They examined the doctors six times: twice before the air pollution controls were in place, twice during the games and twice after the Olympics ended and air pollution levels returned to normal.

Their findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that even a short-term reduction in air pollution exposure can immediately improve cardiovascular health. Those findings bolstered studies that have recently linked air pollution to adverse cardiovascular health.

What's more, the researchers say, the USC findings have widespread implications for air pollution policies that could improve human health worldwide.

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