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Air Quality and Environmental Health - Essay Example

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Air Quality and Environmental Health

Indoor smoke from solid fuels and unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene are main causes of 580,000 deaths per year. Urban air pollution and exposure to lead and other pollutants are responsible for 405, 000 deaths (World Health Organization, 2005). Studies from the United States and Europe show that persons in an industrialized nation spend more than 90 percent of their time indoors. The indoors however cannot be rendered safer than outdoors since concentration of airborne substances indoors exceed those outdoors. Individuals exposed to it develop chronic diseases more so for those living in the urban areas. Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) is the major source of indoor contaminants and it cannot be avoided by nonsmokers who live in the same house. Since the chemicals found in ETS are toxic and carcinogenic, exposure can lead to lung and other cancers, emphysema and other chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and cardiovascular diseases. Everyone gets a share of the effects of harmful ETS but children are particularly susceptible (Environmental Protection Agency, 2007).
Aside from environmental tobacco smoke, combustion pollutants can also be found at high levels inside homes. This is normally coming from malfunctioning heating devices and motor vehicle emissions. The combustion sources usually contain gaseous pollutants such as carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). Carbon monoxide is an asphyxiant. It can readily combine with hemoglobin to form carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) which disrupts oxygen transport. The highest with the highest oxygen needs are affected first. CO poisoning symptoms is almost similar to influenza. Nitrogen dioxide is an irritant which mainly affects the mucosa of the eyes, nose, throat and respiratory tract. . Acute S02-related bronchial constriction may also occur in people with asthma or as a hypersensitivity reaction. Pulmonary edema and diffuse lung injury can result form extremely high dose exposure to N02. Acute or chronic bronchitis can result from continued exposure to high N02 levels (Environmental Protection Agency, 2007).
In addition, airborne lead, mercury vapor, asbestos and radon have its own contribution as health hazards. The microscopic fibers of damaged asbestos-containing material may disperse into the air and inhaled. Its presence within the lungs results to asbestosis, lung cancer and pleural or peritoneal cancer or mesothelioma. The second leading cause of lung cancer is radon. Lead toxicity may alternatively present as acute illness. In children signs and symptoms may include irritability, abdominal pain, emesis, marked ataxia and seizures or loss of consciousness. In adults signs and symptoms include headache, nausea, anorexia, constipation, fatigue, personality changes and hearing loss. Mercury present in paints can be the main source of mercury poisoning (Environmental Protection Agency, 2007). Diesel exhaust particulate is also a primary concern of many communities since it is responsible for 70 percent of the known cancer risk. It also contributes to other respiratory diseases (Air Resources Board, 2005) and pre-existing respiratory diseases can be exacerbated by air pollution. Children who are particularly susceptible to diseases, the Clean Air Coalition claims that children living in more polluted air have ...Show more


Environmental diseases can be acquired by exposure to harsh surroundings. This is characterized by pollution which is most common to urban areas. People living in urban areas may have twice as much chance of acquiring environmental diseases due to higher concentration of the factors which leads to diseases…
Author : russelkelton
Air Quality and Environmental Health essay example
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