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Air Pollution and Its Impact on Health


Pollution is an urgent problem not only of local importance but also of the entire planet. In the 21st century, solving the most critical issues of ecology and preserving the Earth’s ecosystem for future generations became acute for all humankind. Addressing the main environmental challenges of our planet depends not only on the targeted policies of the world powers but also on each person. The ecological state of the world is gradually deteriorating. Natural resources are exhausted, and the environment is polluted at a rapid pace.

Air pollution is back on the rice
Figure 1. New rise of air pollution, Ingraham, Christopher

According to Ingraham, after a prolonged improvement in air quality in America, pollution indicators in 2017-2019 began to increase again (see fig.1). This is evidenced by the high concentration of fine particles PM2,5 (Ingraham para. 1). There were several reasons for this: an increase in the number of vehicles used by citizens, a decrease in legislative control over pollution related to Trump’s policy, large fires that occurred in California, and others. All this negatively affects human health, quality of life, and mortality rates.

Sources And Components Of Air Pollution

Any substance contaminates air: gaseous, solid, and liquid if it is contained in amounts exceeding their average content. Air pollution is usually divided into outdoor and indoor pollutions. At the same time, the components present in the outdoor and indoor air are similar but may differ depending on the region (Jiang et al. 32). The primary sources of air pollution are industrialization and a growing population, the energy industry, and the transport industry. Most frequent and most polluting for the atmosphere are carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter (see fig. 2).

Air pollution sources and components
Fig. 2. Air pollution sources and components. Jiang, Xu-Qin, Xiao-Dong Mei, and Di Feng.

Impact On Health

Air pollution by chemical elements, combustion products, and greenhouse gases has a devastating effect not only on the people but also on the state’s economy. It leads to an increase in the cost of treating diseases caused by dirty air. Among such conditions, experts call asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, cancer, neuropsychiatric disorders, some types of cardiovascular diseases, congenital developmental pathologies in children, and others (Kim et al. 76). In the number of the illnesses leading to death, COPD, lung cancer, and cardiovascular diseases stand out. According to Sissons, among deaths due to COPD, 43% of diseases were caused by air pollution, in lung cancer, this rate is 29%, cardiovascular – 19% (para. 14; 17; 20) (see fig. 3-5). Other diseases like asthma and allergy can accompany a person throughout his or her life, and cognitive impairment can manifest in old age.

Prevalence of air pollution as a cause of fatal diseases

Prevalence of air pollution as a cause of fatal diseases

Prevalence of air pollution as a cause of fatal diseases
Fig. 3-5. Prevalence of air pollution as a cause of fatal diseases. Sissons, Claire.

According to Ritchie and Roser, air pollution is the fifth most common risk of diseases for the world’s population, and the fourth of death (para. 19; 24) (see fig. 6-7).

Place of air pollution as the risk for disease
Fig. 6. Place of air pollution as the risk for disease. Ritchie, Hannah and Max Roser.
Place of air pollution as the risk for death
Fig. 7. Place of air pollution as the risk for death. Ritchie, Hannah and Max Roser.

What Can People Do To Reduce Negative Impact

A global solution to the air pollution problem requires action from world governments, but everyone can contribute to solving the issue. Moreover, some measures will help reduce the negative impact on the human body and prevent the exacerbation or appearance of diseases (see fig. 8). All citizens should be aware of such rules, especially those living in places with high pollution levels. So when planning his or her activities, a person needs to take into account the characteristics of the area to live.

Measures to limit negative impact of air pollution on human health
Fig. 8. Measures to limit negative impact of air pollution on human health. Jiang, Xu-Qin, Xiao-Dong Mei, and Di Feng.

Conclusion

The issue of air pollution is among the most severe global challenges humanity facing today. The danger of air pollution is not only that harmful substance in the air but also in the Earth’s pollution-induced climate change. Although the problem exceeds local scales, precautions begin with each individual. Taking care of the environment will benefit the health of citizens preventing diseases and can save the planet.

Works Cited

Ingraham, Christopher. “Air Pollution is Getting Worse, and Data Show More People are Dying.” 2019, Web.

Jiang, Xu-Qin, Xiao-Dong Mei, and Di Feng. “Air Pollution and Chronic Airway Diseases: What Should People Know and Do?” Journal of Thoracic Disease, vol.8, no.1, 2016, pp. 31-40.

Kim, Dasom, et al. “Air Pollutants and Early Origins of Respiratory Diseases.” Chronic Diseases and Translational Medicine, vol. 4, no.2, 2018, pp. 75-94.

Ritchie, Hannah and Max Roser. “Air Pollution.” Our World In Data, 2017. Web.

Sissons, Claire. “How Does Air Pollution Affect Our Health?” Medical News Today. 2020, Web.

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