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Air Pollution Still a Problem for Older Adults: 5 Steps to Mitigate the Risk
Air Pollution Still a Problem for Older Adults: 5 Steps to Mitigate the Risk

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that air pollution kills thousands of Americans every year. The study used data from millions of Americans on Medicare to determine the consequences of air pollution on older Americans.

The study was among the most comprehensive to date on the effects of air pollution. Led by Francesca Dominici, a Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health biostatistics professor, the study required researchers to synthesize data from federal air monitoring stations and satellites to create a map of air pollution. The map was so detailed that it could determine pollution for individual zip codes.

The pollution map was then cross referenced with data from 60 million Americans on Medicare from 2000-2013. The conclusion drawn was that even low levels of air pollution are lethal, killing around 12,000 Americans per year.

"We are now providing bullet-proof evidence that we are breathing harmful air," Dominici said in an interview with NPR. "Our air is contaminated."

But what can Americans do with this information? There are several concrete steps you can take to protect yourself.

1. Check Your Daily Pollution Forecast
The American Lung Association has an app that you can download that will let you know how much pollution to expect in your area on any given day. If the forecast is high, limit the amount of time you spend outdoors.

2. Avoid Exercising in Areas of Heavy Traffic
Cars create pollution. Even if you are going for a short walk down the road, the pollution has the ability to build up over time. State parks and gyms are a great alternative for a safer place to exercise.

3. Get Regular Check Ups
Air pollution can cause a number of diseases, including lung cancer. That is why it is important that you take full advantage of the preventative care options that your insurance offers. That way, you can catch any diseases early.

4. Stop Smoking
This one should be self-explanatory, but if you are worried about air pollution then you need to make a concerted effort to cut down on the amount of cigarette smoke you are exposed to. While smoking habits have decreased, 8.4% of the population still smoked in 2014, according to the State of Aging and Health in America.

5. Consider Medicare Supplement Insurance Options (Medigap)
If you live in an area of high pollution, you may decide to invest in a Medigap plan that can offer you more protection should the worst happen.

Air pollution is a serious problem for all Americans, but for seniors, it can have a more pronounced effect. Taking precautions can prevent you from experiencing the worst of the consequences. 

http://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa1702747

Disclaimer: Neither Bankers Fidelity Life Insurance Company® nor its Medicare Supplement policies are affiliated with or endorsed by the U.S. Government, the federal Medicare program, or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This is a solicitation of Medicare Supplement insurance and an independent agent may call on you. 

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