A series of new studies focus on the destructive health effects of pollution.

According to an article in the New York Times, in recent decades people living in the south of China are living five years longer on average than their northern counterparts. The reasons are because of the pollution from the widespread use of coal in the north, according to a study released Monday by The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a prominent American science journal.

The study was conducted by an American, an Israeli and two Chinese scholars and was based on analyses of health and pollution data collected by official Chinese sources from 1981 to 2001. Click here to read the full story in the New York Times.

At the same time, NBC News reports that two studies release on Tuesday shows air pollution can cause lung cancer and seems to worsen heart failure.

Both studies show the more pollution, the more disease. One study looked at lung cancer cases across Europe; the other looked at hospitalization for heart failure in several countries, including the United States.

Dr. Ole Raaschou-Nielsen of the Danish Cancer Society Research Center said they couldn’t find a “safe” level of air pollution. The more pollution, the higher the risk, even at legally accepted limits.

The second study looked at 12 countries, including the United States. Nicholas Mills of the University of Edinburgh in Britain and colleagues combined data from 35 studies that assessed carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone pollution, as well as particulate matter (often simply called soot) and looked at rates of being hospitalized for heart failure,.

About half of people with heart failure die within five years, according to the American Heart Association. This study found that one of the things that can throw heart failure patients into the hospital, or kill them, is breathing polluted air. Click here to read the NBC News story.