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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 4, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Duwamish Valley residents have shorter life expectancy

Study should have focused on education levels

The article “Study finds life is shorter for some in 98108 ZIP code” points the finger for eight years of lower longevity at diesel particulates, benzene and childhood asthma [“Study finds life is shorter for some in 98108 ZIP code,” front page, March 28]. The EPA could have saved $50,000 by comparing maps of income and longevity in Seattle. “Unhealthy” Georgetown, South Park and Beacon Hill not only have lower longevity; they also have the highest concentration of very low-income earners in the city.

There have been ample studies that show the difference in longevity based on education levels and the data on income versus education is overwhelming.

According to a study reported in 2012 by the Health Affairs journal, the difference in longevity for someone with a college education versus someone who dropped out of high school was 12.9 years for a white man, 9.7 years for a black man, and 5.5 years for a Hispanic man. For women, the differences were 10.4, 6.5, and 2.9, respectively.

Higher levels of education also correlate with healthier food choices and engaging in fitness activities, two of the most significant influencers of longevity.

Instead of holding industry accountable for reduced longevity, the city would find a superior outcome by focusing on the state’s 32nd national ranking in on-time-high-school graduation rate, which was 77.2 percent in the latest study published by the U.S. Department of Education. In Seattle, the rate was 67 percent.

Kathleen Brush, Burien

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