January 28, 2010
Air Quality Improvements Cut Child Ear Infections

An example of why we should make more strides to cut pollution.

A new study by researchers at UCLA and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston suggests that improvements in air quality over the past decade have resulted in fewer cases of ear infections in children.

Ear infections are one of the most common illnesses among children, with annual direct and indirect costs of $3 billion to $5 billion in the United States.

"We believe these findings, which demonstrate a direct correlation between air quality and ear infections, have both medical and political significance," said study co-author Dr. Nina Shapiro, director of pediatric otolaryngology at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA and an associate professor of surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "The results validate the benefits of the revised Clean Air Act of 1990, which gave the Environmental Protection Agency more authority to implement and enforce regulations reducing air-pollutant emissions. It also shows that the improvements may have direct benefit on health-quality measures."

A new US Environmental Protection Agency regulation to cut back nitrogen dioxide to cut smog formation will help. A third of human-caused NO2 emissions in the US come from electric power generation. If we shifted away from oil and natural gas for electric power and used more nukes and wind we'd breathe cleaner and healthier air. Electrified rails in place of diesel trucks would also help.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 January 28 11:03 PM  Pollution Health

Bruce said at January 29, 2010 7:37 PM:

I question this study. It sounds like an EPA propaganda press release. And since the EPA claims CO2 is a polutant, I don't believe anything or their cronies say.

I'll suggest an alternative reason.

"One of the worst risk factors for ear infections is smoking. Studies have shown that cigarette
smoke greatly increases the likeliness of suffering from ear infection symptomS"


" The average rate of smoking across the decades fell from 40% in the 1970s to 32% in the 1980s, 26% in the 1990s, and 24% since 2000."


Engineer-Poet said at January 30, 2010 1:53 AM:

And if the reductions were also seen in non-smoking households, what would you say then?

Bob Badour said at January 30, 2010 11:06 AM:

I might say the reduction of second-hand smoke in public places has an effect and push for increased restrictions.

Randall Parker said at January 30, 2010 1:02 PM:


I am relieved and thrilled by your line of reasoning. You've masterfully discredited the EPA and therefore we can now rest assured that everything the EPA has claimed is false. That means since the EPA says benzene is a carcinogen that benzene is harmless. Hurray! The EPA says lead and mercury are neurotoxins. But we can now go back to using lead in gasoline and eat high mercury fish with no worries. Double hurray! Oh, and chloroflourocarbons as agents that destroy ozone in the outer atmosphere? We no longer have to believe that because by rejecting this we disagree with the EPA.

I want to see a full list of everything the EPA believes. I bet they even believe that cigarette smoke is harmful. Of course, that'll make your own argument wrong. But once you are discredited we can return to the 1940s when cigarettes were marketed for their health benefits.

The future sure looks bright now that the EPA has been discredited. We can dismantle pollution controls on coal electric power plants, let steel plants belch unlimited quantities of smoke, and tune cars only for performance. No more need for expensive catalytic converters.

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