We often hear about the dire impacts of air pollution on health, but a new study sheds positive light on the flip side of the issue: Efforts to clean the air are paying off. The study, by researchers at Harvard, found that even small reductions in fine particulate-matter pollution increased life expectancy, especially in urban areas and among women.

The study looked at air quality data between 2000 and 2007 from 545 counties across the United States and found an average increase in life expectancy of about one-third of a year. Air pollution has decreased dramatically since the 1970s, but progress began to slow in 2000. So the new study set out to explore the question of whether the smaller reductions in air pollution of recent years still had measurable health benefits.

These studies help to underscore the importance of combating air pollution and why we spend so much time and money in pursuit of eradicating air pollution. The bottom line, gleaned from this study: Cleaner air helps us live longer, healthier lives. That's something we should all be in favor of.