When we are young, we may be able to handle a certain amount of pollution with ease, but as we get older, we become more susceptible to the pollutants in our environment, even if those contaminants are in reasonably small amounts. The perfect place in the city that was ideal in our 30s may have a negative impact on our health in our 60s and beyond.
According to recent research provided by the American Thoracic Society, air pollution is a direct contributor to acute respiratory distress hospitalization in older patients. They found that locations that had even a small increase in pollution compared to other areas will see more hospitalizations due to acute respiratory distress, especially among the elderly population. This holds true even when other factors such as weather, race, income, and smoking are accounted for. The long-term exposure to pollutants leads to an intensification of respiratory problems as we age.
In a Science Daily article, the study’s senior author, Dr. David Christiani stated that:
"Our findings are unique in showing that the adverse health effects of air pollution on our senior citizens now include acute respiratory failure and that an increase in hospitalization for ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress) in seniors occurs at the current U.S. air pollution standards. These results add to the growing body of literature on various adverse health effects at current standards that demonstrate a need to lower our exposure limits."
What does this mean when planning for the retirement years?
Look into factors such as what industries are in the area and consider the amount of traffic on the street in the neighborhood you are considering. Recent research done in Oakland found that pollution levels can even vary from neighborhood to neighborhood within the same city. If you are set on a particular town, don’t give up. There may be an area within it that has lower levels of pollution.
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