Air Pollution and Mortality Rates

Introduction

Nowadays, air pollution becomes more serious as a result of people’s intervention in nature. In the process of evolution, humanity adapted the surrounding world to itself without thinking about possible problems in the future. The forests are regularly cut down, the consumption of non-renewable raw materials is increasing, and more and more arable land is dropping out of the economy for the construction of new cities and plants (Jerrett 2015). In this case, it is possible to identify several of the most significant processes that significantly worsen the ecological situation on the planet. These include chemical contamination of the environment by substances of a chemical nature such as gaseous and aerosol pollutants of industrial and domestic origin. In this regard, air pollution should be reduced to decrease the adverse impacts such as mortality and morbidity rates.

Main Body

To understand the causes of the mentioned problem, it is important to consider the history of human and experimental toxicology and determine its role in air pollution. In 1952, over 400 more deaths during two weeks were noted, while smog was regarded as the source responsible for the majority of adverse impacts (Maynard & Dayan 2015). It was the period when Human and Experimental Toxicology appeared, and it was considered that the challenge of air pollution was resolved, yet research in this field continued.

Climate change and air pollution are closely associated with each other. The climate change is largely promoted by air pollution. Several studies show that air pollution significantly affects health by impacting the death of many people. It should be stressed that the effect air pollution level depends on a geographic region. As for Nordic Countries, it is expected to reduce emission of primary fine particulate matter (PM2.5) by the Nordic Council of Ministers. If in 2010, the mentioned indicator was 25-30 percent, then it is to be 35-50 percent by 2020 (Fauser et al. 2016). The authors stated emission reduction from 2000 to 2010 was significant, namely, 5-7 percent. Among different causes of air pollution, there are smoking and increased ozone levels. This impacts health of residents in cities.

Speaking of air pollution, one should also note traffic-related air pollution and health outcomes. The main contribution to the pollution of the atmosphere is made by cars running on gasoline, cars with diesel engines, agricultural machines, railway, and water transport. The key pollutants released by traffic are carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen oxides (Guarnieri & Balmes 2014). The greatest amount of pollutants is emitted during the acceleration of the car, which means that cars particularly pollute the air environment with frequent stops and when driving at low speed. Traffic-related air pollution causes an increasing trend of asthma both in children and adults. Namely, Brauer, Reynolds, and Hystad (2013) revealed that the link between incident childhood asthma and the mentioned problem (Brauer, Reynolds & Hystad 2013). 32 percent of Canadians live in communities with air pollution. They are at risk of developing the following disease are also promoted by air pollution: cardiovascular diseases, myocardial infarction, and lung cancer.

The main cause of air pollution is fuel combustion and emissions of heavy industry. In the 19 century, all products of combustion of coal coming into the environment were fully absorbed by vegetation. At present, plants of the whole Earth cannot cope with this task. About half of the carbon dioxide caused by the combustion of fuel is currently absorbed by oceans and green plants, while the other half remains in the atmosphere (D’Amato et al. 2013). Therefore, the composition of the atmosphere is constantly changing. It tends to contain more and more products of combustion, primarily carbon dioxide. As a result of the combustion of fuel in the atmosphere, billions of tons of carbon dioxide are annually supplied. According to scientists, over the past 100 years, its content in the atmosphere has increased by more than ten percent (De Sario, Katsouyanni & Michelozzi 2013). As a result of the fact that the carbon dioxide accumulated in the atmosphere interferes with the thermal radiation of the Earth, a greenhouse effect has arisen. An average temperature of the Earth’s surface increases year by year. This leads to the melting of glaciers and global warming.

Recently, World Health Assembly (WHA) confirmed the significance of both outdoor and indoor air quality on human health. One may note the case of India that led to almost 2000 deaths because of heat waves may be noted as an example. The research shows that the heat waves cause health deterioration, especially in India, one of the most polluted cities worldwide (The Lancet 2015). Some other negative impacts may include weakening of the body, reducing resistance to infections, and decreasing life expectancy. In various ways, genes are affected, the consequences of which are manifested in the second or third generations due to a cumulative effect, causing irreversible effects (Ondráček et al. 2011). The World Environment Day celebrated on June 5, 2015 intends to observe air quality in many cities (The Lancet 2015).

It is of great importance to enhance urban air quality. The US and China are the largest energy consumers all over the globe. As a result, they also emit the most of air pollutants, which have local, national, and worldwide impacts. Initially, the US issued a low concerning burning of sea coal, and in the 19th century, coal and smoke decree was accepted in Chicago, resulting in about 7,000 diseases and 20 deaths (Jerrett 2015). In 1977, Clean Air Act Amendment was accepted to improve the situation. In addition, China started to try reducing air pollution caused by coal combustion through implementing Control of Atmospheric Pollution Act (Jin, Andersson & Zhang 2016). Several amendments to these laws were made. In other words, the improvement of air quality became a critical issue in both countries.

Urban air pollution in Pakistan is one of the most serious across the world, and it presents considerable threats to the economy, environment, and human health. The development of Pakistan’s air quality management (AQM) strategy was performed over the period from1993 to 2013 (Sanchez-Triana, Enriquez, Afzal, Nakagawa & Khan 2014). In 1993, this country issued standards regarding industrial emissions and changed the Pakistan Environmental Protection Ordinance. Furthermore, it levied a pollution charge (1997), introduced the National Clean Air Act (2005), and Cleaning Pakistan’s Air Act (2010). Another negative environmental factor of a global scale in Pakistan is the greenhouse effect. The country has begun to elaborate and implement a series of projects, following the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). According to the Montreal Protocol on the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, the government imposed stringent restrictions on the import of equipment containing freon (Rao et al. 2013). As a rule, all complex developments in Pakistan are conducted with the help and support of international organisations.

The implementation of any major projects as well as the emergence of new vehicles and aircraft will inevitably have an impact on the natural environment and health outcomes. However, if environmentally sound and reasonable requirements for these projects are met, their negative impact on health can be minimised. At the same time, the study of the situation in the regions related to the implementation of the planned major economic innovations allows analysing the existing and expected changes in the medical and biological characteristics (Makar et al. 2015; Xiao, Saikawa, Yokelson, Chen, Li & Kang 2015). For example, the traffic systems created in the cities in the “green wave” regime, which significantly decrease the number of stops at intersections, should be designed to reduce air pollution in cities. Diesel engines are more economical and emit no more than gasoline ones, but they emit much more smoke, which also has an unpleasant odour generated by some unburned hydrocarbons. In combination with the generated noise, diesel engines not only pollute the environment but also affect human health much more than gasoline ones. Therefore, they should be replaced by ecologically-friendly ones.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it should be stressed that air pollution has become one of the most critical challenges in today’s environment in spite of the advancements in technology and overall progress of the society. Large companies and governments should pay attention to their attitudes to air pollution. Every person may help in decreasing global air pollution and impeding global warming and climate change by driving an eco-friendly car and using the corresponding cleansing means. Together, people can make the Earth a cleaner and healthier place to live.

Reference List

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Jerrett, M 2015, ’The death toll from air-pollution sources,’ Nature, vol. 525, no. 7569, pp. 330-331.

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