The Health Effects of Air Pollution in America

Subject: Environment
Pages: 7
Words: 2032
Reading time:
9 min
Study level: Master

Air pollution is currently a global issue faced by many countries. It is the presence of solid, liquid, and gaseous particles in the atmosphere, which reduces the air quality, thus harming humans’ health and all living things (Landrigan, 2017). There are various causes of air pollution, including agricultural activities, mining operations, fossil fuel, exhaust from industries, natural events, and waste in landfills (Manisalidis et al., 2020). Currently, there is an increased awareness and demand for improving the quality of air by minimizing or eliminating the primary cause of air pollution. There are rising cases of health issues related to air pollution (Gouveia et al., 2018).

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Air pollution’s long-term effects include heart defects, emphysema, and lung cancer. Scientists found out that air pollution causes significant damage to people’s organs such as nerves, liver, brain, and kidney (Manisalidis et al., 2020). Some sources show a link between air pollution and congenital disabilities (Çapraz, Deniz, & Doğan, 2017). The American people living in significant cities experience different health issues resulting from increased air pollution. Therefore, there is a need to adopt various interventions for mitigating the harmful effects of air pollution to improve their health.

Background and Literature Review

Air pollution is a severe environmental concern across the U.S. Several epidemiology studies conducted in the U.S. in the past years reported a relationship between increased hospitalized and death rates and elevated air pollution levels to emphysema and other respiratory and cardiovascular diseases (Manisalidis et al., 2020). Air pollution became a major issue in America since the dawn of industrialization.

Landrigan (2017) concluded in his study that the air quality continues to diminish as the U.S. continues to grow and expand in its industrial sector. Industrial emissions are the primary cause of air pollution across major urban areas in America (Landrigan, 2017). Moreover, as urban areas continue to expand, people clear forests and other vegetation in such areas to build factories and industries. Lack of vegetation results in poor air quality in urban areas, impacting all living things (Landrigan, 2017). Therefore, health problems related to air pollution are extensive in urban areas compared to rural areas.

Existing Relationship Between Health Status and Air Pollution

Gouveia et al., 2018 conducted a research study in the three largest Latin American cities, Sao Paulo, Mexico, and Lima, 2018 to determine the effects of air pollution on children and infants’ respiratory health mortality. The researchers collected data from children and infants’ healthcare facilities admitted with respiratory issues over the past five years. Their analyzed data included that the increasing problem of air pollution in Latin American cities harms infants’ health and increases the respiratory mortality of infants and children.

Çapraz et al. (2017) researched the effects of air pollution on the respiratory system of the people living in Istanbul, Turkey. The researchers used a Single-Pollutant Poisson Generalized Linear Model (G.L.M.) across all age groups between 2013 and 2015 because the country experienced a significant increase in air pollution between those years due to intensive industrial development. They found a positive association between increased respiratory hospital admission cases and people’s exposure to polluted air across Istanbul based on the number of respiratory hospital admissions (Çapraz et al., 2017). The research results also indicated that the effect of air pollution affects people of all ages equally. The research results reflect on the lives of people living in urban areas across the U.S. because of the increased air pollution problem.

Manisalidis et al. (2020) studied the effects of matter present in the air on people’s circulatory and respiratory systems across the U.S. They compared the increasing cost of health insurance concerning high infection cases among the population living in the urban areas. Air quality in America’s urban areas is low because of increased pollution resulting from fossil fuel burning like petroleum products and industrial emissions. Industries that make paints release heavy metals like lead into the air, significantly damaging the liver and kidney (Manisalidis et al., 2020). They also noted that U.S.’s mortality rate is very high because of health problems resulting from air pollution. Moreover, premature deaths are also very high across the country since it affects people across all age groups.

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Impacts of Air Pollution in Urban Areas and Agricultural Sectors

Fajersztajn et al. (2017) researched the significant effects of fine particulate matter on the populations’ health living in Tokyo compared to coarse particulate matter. The researchers recorded the time exposure of the patients to the particles and their health status. They concluded that the smaller the size of particulate matter, the greater the penetration potential to cause a health disparity. Therefore, short-term exposure to fine particles has the potential to cause a significant health risk. People living in urban areas with a high level of pollutions are at a higher risk of developing health problems.

Bourdrel et al. (2017) researched the effects of industrial emissions and chemicals used on farms like pesticides that harm people’s health. They recorded that air pollution exposure increases an individual’s risk of developing arteriosclerosis. It is illustrated by premature coronary and aortic calcification (Bourdrel et al., 2017). In their epidemiological study, they reinforced the evidence of systematic vascular oxidation reaction resulting from air pollution.

Babadjouni et al. (2017) conducted a study to determine how much the U.S. government spends on the health sector resulting from air pollution. The researchers concluded that the American government spends more on the health sector because of increased cases of health problems (Babadjouni et al., 2017). Many of the reported health disparities result from poor air quality because of increased instances of pollution. For example, heavy metal released into the air from factories affects an individual’s nervous system and can result in permanent paralysis (Babadjouni et al., 2017). There are several ways the American government continues to fight against air pollution. For example, the government has regulations in place that limit factory emissions to help manage air pollution.

Current Intervention for Mitigating Air Pollution in Urban Areas in the U.S.

The Indian government is currently using the intervention of planting pollution-gobbling trees along the roadsides in major cities (Ghosh, 2018). India’s government successfully planted different plants such as silk oak, walnut, and Himalayan Cherry along roadsides in Delhi. The plants are efficient in trapping and absorbing particles in the air, thereby reducing air pollution. The successful green belt developed along roadsides in Delhi absorbs black carbon, dust, and particulate matter, thus acting as a sink for pollution.

Several American states such as Miami and Michigan continue to advocate for planting more trees to purify the air (Koengkan et al., 2021). Increasing vegetation helps to purify the air by filtering most pollutants. Koengkan et al. (2021) suggested that people should shift to renewable energy to reduce deforestation, which helps mitigate air pollution. Moreover, several developing countries such as South Africa and India utilize health education intervention to persuade people to plant more trees (Sacks et al., 2018). For the past five years, such countries saw an increase in their vegetation cover and increased air quality.

A two square kilometer of vegetation improves the air quality by 2% (Giannadaki et al., 2018). Reducing air pollution from the agricultural sector can result in significant economic and health benefits across the U.S. (Giannadaki et al., 2018). Farmers living in the U.S.’s interior areas continue to adopt improved agricultural practices that reduce air pollution (Koengkan et al., 2021). They contribute to minimizing the number of pollutants released into the atmosphere.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal

According to Ghosh’s study of 2016, the Indian government managed to mitigate the problem of air pollution in Delhi by planting different air pollution-gobbling trees such as silk oak, walnut, and Himalayan Cherry along roadsides. The country used the plants to develop a green belt along the roadsides, resulting in a significant air pollution reduction (Ghosh, 2018). Therefore, if the U.S. government plants more air pollution-gobbling plants in urban areas, it will help minimize the increasing concern of air pollution and improve people’s health status in such areas.

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Measurable

The U.S. government can determine the effectiveness of developing a green belt along the roadside in urban areas by determining the number of patients suffering from health issues related to air pollution. Moreover, the government can measure air quality after successfully developing green belts (Ghosh, 2018). This intervention is currently effective in Delhi and can also work in the U.S. because the pollution-gobbling plants act as a sink for pollution in such areas. With time, the air quality in such areas will improve, thereby enhancing people’s health status in urban areas.

Achievability

This intervention is proven to be effective by the Indian government. The U.S. government can also achieve the same results by planting similar trees along roadsides in major cities (Ghosh, 2018). Delhi enjoys clean air because the trees purify all the pollutants’ air by absorbing black carbon, dust, and particulate matter. The Indian government aims to replicate the same intervention in other cities.

Realistic

The intervention of planting pollution-gobbling trees is practical and realistic for the U.S. government because it is already working in Delhi, India (Ghosh, 2018). Therefore, the U.S. will successfully combat air pollution in major cities by planting similar trees and roadsides to develop a green belt. The government should only focus on determining various ways of shortening the period for successfully setting up the green belts.

Time-bound

The U.S. government can effectively implement this intervention in one year. The period allows the plants to grow to a certain height that can be effective in trapping and absorbing significant amounts of pollutants in the air. The government can utilize the existing technology to fasten the growth period of such trees. The Indian government used two years to develop the green belt in Delhi today (Ghosh, 2018). Therefore, using current technology can allow the U.S. government to use less time in developing green belts across all urban areas.

Proposed Project Benefits

Research proved that planting more trees improves air quality in the area (Ghosh, 2018). In Delhi, the Indian government authorized the highway authorities to plant air pollution-gobbling plants, reducing air pollution in the city. Therefore, when the U.S. implements the above intervention, respiratory hospital admissions related to air pollution will reduce across the country. Consequently, people will spend less on medication, allowing them to save more money or live a comfortable life. The intervention reduces air pollution’s health impact, minimizing the government’s burden for providing adequate and quality healthcare facilities.

Thus, the government can use such funds currently invested in the healthcare sector to improve other areas. Based on research conducted by Manisalidis et al. (2020), health insurance in the U.S. will be lower because the intervention mitigates all the health issues related to air pollution. People will experience more positive impacts following the intervention because they will rely on a cheaper energy source, reducing their annual expenditure.

The intervention can help enhance air quality and individual life status across the U.S. Thus; the government will experience significant economic growth because of its product improvement since many employees will not have to take a medical leave. There is an improvement in the whole nation’s health status due to air quality (Roy et al., 2020). The intervention also results in a lower mortality rate because people’s overall health improves. Another advantage of the intervention is that there is increased green cover across the U.S. as people begin to plant more trees.

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Conclusion

Air pollution is the major contributor to the increasing cases of health problems across the U.S. The issue has multiple long-term health effects, which include emphysema, lung cancer, and heart diseases. Particulate matter exposure present in the air causes significant damage to people’s organs such as nerves, liver, brain, and kidney. Currently, the American people spend more on health insurance because of the prevalence of health issues related to air pollution. There is a positive association between increased cases of respiratory hospital admission and short-term air pollution exposure. Therefore, the American government should use the intervention of planting pollution-gobbling trees along roadsides in urban areas to manage air pollution’s harmful impacts on people’s health. Examples of benefits related to the intervention are that the American people will spend less on medical insurance, and the overall health will improve.

References

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Bourdrel, T., Bind, M. A., Béjot, Y., Morel, O., & Argacha, J. F. (2017). Cardiovascular effects of air pollution. Archives of cardiovascular diseases, 110(11), 634-642. Web.

Çapraz, Ö., Deniz, A., & Doğan, N. (2017). Effects of air pollution on respiratory hospital admissions in İstanbul, Turkey, 2013 to 2015. Chemosphere, 181, 544-550. Web.

Fajersztajn, L., Saldiva, P., Pereira, L. A. A., Leite, V. F., & Buehler, A. M. (2017). Short-term effects of fine particulate matter pollution on daily health events in Latin America: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International journal of public health, 62(7), 729-738. Web.

Giannadaki, D., Giannakis, E., Pozzer, A., & Lelieveld, J. (2018). Estimating health and economic benefits of reductions in air pollution from agriculture. Science of the total environment, 622, 1304-1316. Web.

Gosh, S. (2018). Greening with pollution-gobbling trees doubles benefits. Environment and health. Web.

Gouveia, N., Junger, W. L., Romieu, I., Cifuentes, L. A., de Leon, A. P., Vera, J., Strappa, V., Hurtado, M., Miranda-Soberanis, V., Rojas-Bracho, L., Carbajal-Arroyo, L., & Tzintzun-Cervantes, G. (2018). Effects of air pollution on infant and children respiratory mortality in four large Latin-American cities. Environmental Pollution, 232, 385-391. Web.

Jayasooriya, V. M., Ng, A. W. M., Muthukumaran, S., & Perera, B. J. C. (2017). Green infrastructure practices for the improvement of urban air quality. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 21, 34-47. Web.

Koengkan, M., Fuinhas, J. A., & Silva, N. (2021). Exploring renewable energy consumption capacity to reduce outdoor air pollution death rate in Latin America and the Caribbean region. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 28(2), 1656-1674. Web.

Landrigan, P. J. (2017). Air pollution and health. The Lancet Public Health, 2(1), e4-e5.

Manisalidis, I., Stavropoulou, E., Stavropoulos, A., & Bezirtzoglou, E. (2020). Environmental and health impacts of air pollution: a review. Frontiers in public health, 8.

Roy, A., Chandra, T., Ratho, A., Air, C., & Resilience, C. (2020). Finding Solutions to Air Pollution in India: The Role of Policy, Finance, and Communities.

Sacks, J. D., Lloyd, J. M., Zhu, Y., Anderton, J., Jang, C. J., Hubbell, B., & Fann, N. (2018). The Environmental Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program–Community Edition (BenMAP–C.E.): A tool to estimate the health and economic benefits of reducing air pollution. Environmental Modelling & Software, 104, 118-129. Web.