As people consume less fuel in America, vehicle emissions should drop. Less pollution means bluer skies and longer lives and the potential to slow global warming, albeit slightly. Lower energy demand means the air will contain fewer toxic agents, like particle pollution, which can get deep into your lungs and cause serious health problems. Bottom line? About 2,220 lives have already been saved over the past year because of higher gas prices and less pollution, according to an estimate calculated for TIME by J. Paul Leigh, a University of California at Davis health-economics professor who co-wrote a study on the topic in the March 2008 Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. If prices remain high, we can expect some 2,000 people to avoid dying from pollution in the next 12 months.
With reporting by Maya Curry
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