Medical Study Finds Direct Link Between Reducing Pollution and Extending Lives

v2_title_largeWhat is often missing in the political debate over the environment is the direct cost of pollution on the health and lives of Americans. While the Bush Administration was attacking environmental regulations across the board, officials rarely acknowledged that the lower standard meant more children with asthma and earlier deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Indeed, most citizens fail to understand that pollution shortens their lives. They need to read this week’s issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

The study found that the average drop in pollution seen across 51 metropolitan areas between 1980 and 2000 appears to have added nearly five more months to people’s lives. For example, Pittsburgh’s clearer air meant people there could expect to live nearly 10 months longer.

Long-term exposure to dirty air — specifically, the tiny specks known as fine-particulate air pollution — shortens lives and contributes to cardiovascular and lung disease.

This study reinforces earlier estimates on the health impact of smog, truck emissions, and other environmental problems. Indeed, some studies have suggested that a nonsmoker living in a polluted city has about the same risk of dying of heart disease as a former smoker.

For the full story, click here.

52 thoughts on “Medical Study Finds Direct Link Between Reducing Pollution and Extending Lives”

  1. Mike:

    thank you for the analysis. I am not against stem cell research or abortion (if it is for a good reason). Your comments on my being a Rush Limbaugh ditto head, etc are very tiring. I could say the same about you, i.e. that you get your opinions from JT or Randi Rhodes or Alan (?) Ginsburg or Trotsky or Lennin, or Marx or Timothy Leary or any number of liberal pundits.

    I actually did get on here to have a little fun and I did I got you and Buddha all fired up and Gyges wasnt far behind, dosent it feel good, gets the juices flowing. You probably had more fun taking it to me than you have had in a long time on this one sided blog. I do apologize however for using liberal as a dirty word, that was not right.

    Patty C:

    if that is true how come they continue to study those lines? I thought most of the research lines came from existing embryos left over from invitro fertilization. How did those become contaminated?
    Maybe the ones at NIH did but arent other research facilites working on some uncontaminated lines?

  2. It’s OK, Michael, he doesn’t really want to knock heads with me on this one – whether he knows it or not!

    I’m not going to spend any more time on him. This I do know. 😉

    Any serious scientist in the field knows that the existing cell lines have been ‘problematic’ because of contamination with a singular animal molecule called Neu5ac. And while the contaminated lines are still believed to be suitable for use in the lab and don’t diminish prior results, they would have undoubtedly been unsuitable for human experimental trials because of the immune response. Only recently has there been evidence of the ability to reverse the contamination.

    I have no first hand knowledge of this ability and will be watching this first trial with great interest.

    I am unable to post all the links I would like, and prefer to be inclusive and less technical, as I offer the following in addition to my brief explanation:

    ‘Concerns for Existing Human Embryonic Stem Cells’
    by Susan Garfinkel, Ph.D., and Suzanne Kadereit, Ph.D.

    “Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are of great interest, largely for their potential to treat diseases. In trying to develop future therapies with hESCs, safety is a major issue. Thus, a number of scientists are now studying the cells to determine their precise properties and behaviors.

    Many of the hESC lines that have been isolated to date have been grown in laboratories under defined conditions. These conditions include the use of a layer of mouse cells, called feeder layers, in the culture dishes with the hESCs. A major problem for the development of therapies has been the debate centered on the possible risk of contamination from these mouse cells. Recently, a report published by Martin, in the journal Nature Medicine (1) demonstrated that when hESCs were cultured in the presence of the animal cells, or serum from animals, they could incorporate foreign sugars into the proteins that are part of their cell surface. This makes the hESCs susceptible to immune attack.

    The sugars, called sialic acids, are important components of many biological processes. In their report, the research group showed that a specific form of sialic acid, called Neu5Ac, was released by the mouse feeder cells and was also found in serum that was used in these cultures. Neu5Ac is produced only in animal cells and not in human cells. The group showed that the Neu5Ac in the culture could be taken up by the hESCs and could incorporate into the “glycoproteins” (compounds composed of both a protein and a carbohydrate) found on the cell surface.

    Most healthy humans carry pre-existing natural antibodies that react with Neu5Ac to cause a rejection reaction. The effect is that upon transplantation of hESCs with Neu5Ac incorporated into their cell surface, the human immune system would see the hESCs as similar to animal cells, or as foreign, and ultimately cause the death of the cells. While it is not yet clear where the antibodies in humans come from, Martin et. al. showed that an immune reaction could occur following exposure of the cells to serum from adults with high levels of the antibody. The group also showed that with removal of the mouse feeder cells and replacement of the animal serum with normal human serum, the presence of the Neu5Ac gradually declined to very low levels.

    These data re-ignite an ongoing debate about whether the current human embryonic stem cell lines approved for federal funding in the U.S. are suitable for clinical applications. These “NIH-approved” cells lines are all grown in the presence of mouse feeder layers. Thus, the findings in this report suggest that in order to avoid rejection, the hESC lines would have to be processed free of Neu5Ac in order to be suitable for clinical transplantation. More to the point, new human embryonic stem cell lines derived in the total absence of animal products would alleviate such problems and may speed up bringing hESC research into the clinical setting. The derivation of new cell lines would not only avoid the risks of contamination from animal pathogens, but would also be more immune compatible as they would expectedly not carry animal contaminants capable of inducing an immune response.”

    ***(1) Martin, et. al., Nature Medicine, 11(2):228-32, 2005.

    Updated: February 17, 2005

  3. Poor Braying Boy,
    Can’t quit can you? Same Objectivist/Religionist trying to engage purported liberals in debate, so in the fantasies of your mind you can strike them down, thereby partly restoring your obviously shaky self-esteem. You are the Venus flytrap of trolls (though no doubt not as pretty a flower)looking to suck people in to your Limbaugh copycat debating style. Your political concepts are chapter and verse in the Objectivist Handbook. Your ant-abortion, anti-stem cell stance would do John Hagee proud. Your lack of artifice in concealing the basis of your silly opinions exposes a Limbaugh Ditto-Head clone, whose original thinking is severely limited. you are too ignorant to realize that your objectivist outlook clashes logically with your religionist beliefs, which is all too typical of your type.

    Do you even have the awareness to realize why I’m only attacking you and not engaging in debate with you? No, it’s not because I’m afraid to debate you, silly wabbit. It’s because you lack the capability to engage in rational debate. This is probably because you think the stuff you hear on Radio/TV is real argument, rather than the shouting matches lacking real substance that they are. I’m charitably attributing this lack of clarity to your age, rather than intellect, but must admit that you really don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt. Lastly, what
    your intellectual type never realizes is that people who are of the constitutional, civil libertarian and/or humanitarian ilk are predominantly smarter and better informed than your kind. We always win debates with the type of ignorant no-nothing you represent. The question is whether you’re worth the time and effort. Have a nice day.

  4. Patty C:

    still dont have an example of where they have actually done anything. Its good to do the research but where are the results?
    A clinical trial is not a result.

  5. I did, I did! 😉
    And a hearty ‘Seig Heil’ for Yoo – love the pic!
    ‘Some of the retired officers who joined Obama said the ban on torture would help restore the trust of US allies who have been outraged by recent US detention policies. “The steps we are taking today will be vital to restoring the trust and level of cooperation necessary,” said retired Vice Admiral Lee Gunn.

    The actions amount to “tearing down Al Qaeda’s prime recruiting poster,” added Elisa Massimino, executive director of Human Rights First.

    Obama received sustained applause at the State Department when he told employees of the torture ban.’

    With Clinton, he hailed the appointments of Mitchell and Holbrooke as special envoys to troubled regions.

  6. Patty C:

    Did you catch this little stab in the heart from Obama’s Executive Order signing spree. reports that:

    “Executive Order regarding Interrogation

    Executive Order revokes Executive Order 13440 that interpreted Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. It requires that all interrogations of detainees in armed conflict, by any government agency, follow the Army Field Manual interrogation guidelines. The Order also prohibits reliance on any Department of Justice or other legal advice concerning interrogation that was issued between September 11, 2001 and January 20, 2009.”

    Makes you wonder why we paid Yoo et al in the DOJ’s Office of (il)Legal (non)Counsel.

  7. mespo727272 1, January 23, 2009 at 5:20 pm


    “I am asking for a concrete example of embryonic cell research leading to any type of therapy,”


    In my mind’s eye I see you outside St. Mary’s Hospital in London on September 27, 1928 demanding to know why that crazy, godless Alexander Fleming is wasting his time on that blue-green penicillium mold. “It hasn’t shown any tangible results — not one,” you rant.

    Although unrelated to Bush and the limits he placed on research,
    talk about timing…

    ‘At an FDA hearing in April, several firms’ executives and researchers complained that they were at a loss about what the FDA wanted in terms of clinical trials involving stem cells because the FDA itself wasn’t sure.’

    First Embryonic Stem-Cell Trial Gets Approval From the FDA

    “In a watershed moment for one of the most contentious areas of science and American politics, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared the way for the first-ever human trial of a medical treatment derived from embryonic stem cells…”

  8. Gyno:

    you have taken the wind right out of my sails, your logic has turned me. I have seen the light, praise God. Monday I am going to become a proud liberal, join the ACLU and check myslef into a nuerosurgery clinic so I can have a frontal labotomy to allow myself to be a high functioning lliberal.

  9. Bron,

    Since you somehow managed to hold back your contempt for anyone who holds a different ideology than you, I’ll respond.

    Quit changing the subject.

    I’m guessing you came here to get into a pissing contest and kick all our pansy freedom hating liberal asses (by the way, I’m as much of a liberal as you are a neo-con). Well count me out; if I want to prove I’m an alpha male I just make my dog do tricks. I don’t really care if you think Liberalism has made anyone free or not. Nor is that in any way relevant to your original thesis.

    If you want to rebut my response to your Objectivist argument, go ahead, I’ll be waiting with bated breath. I’d ask you to remember two things though. 1) You’re making a claim (environmental regulations are not necessary because companies will always work in their own best interest) so you need to show the proof. 2) I won’t be sidetracked.

    Just to show I’m sincere, here’s proof that people (and therefore the companies they run) don’t always act in their own long term interest: The Dust Bowl, people who have casual unprotected sex, steroid use among athletes, Mike Shannahan trading Jason Elam, etc.

    If you’re still full of sound and fury and want to continue your chest beating, feel free. If you want to try and goad someone else into rebutting your rubbish, I’m sure someone will indulge you. If you want to start acting like an adult, feel free to join me at the big kid’s table.

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