Pollution And Health: An Analysis

Introduction

Global warming is a real threat to the global community, and we can save the future generations by employing simple solutions to considerably minimize pollution and the global warming. It is to be ensured that global warming reduction must be initiated within 10 years to save the earth from annihilation, and it is essential to minimize the global warming pollution by 65 percent from 85 per cent by 2050.

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In general, pollution can be caused due to disposal of waste products into air, land and water by industries and indulging in crossbreeding that can be considered as the source of deterioration of a product and by combining inferior product components with that of original and standard components that ultimately end in the pollution of a product.

Presently, both developed and developing economies are witnessing acute air pollution concerns. There are increasing worries about the consequences of air pollution on the health of the people and the rising costs of prolonged attempts to enhance the air quality, which mean that these nations will eventually need to exercise quantitative appraisals of the health advantages and costs of minimizing air pollution.

Pollution and Health – An Analysis

According to a joint research study perused by Blacksmith Institute of U.S.A and Green Cross of Switzerland, the role of pollution as a leading causative factor to death and disability in the world and spotlights the disproportionate impacts on the health of children. Further, this report also indicates that pollution is the real culprit for causing the death, prolonged illness and neurological disorders for millions around the globe.

A Louisiana environment group recalls that year 2005 was the warmest year of the globe as per records and advised that the world community should take early steps to check the global warming and if remain unchecked, the global warming may result in raising of sea levels and result in ever-increasing the force of hurricanes like Katrina and inundating sea coasts.

It is to be observed that industrial emission in U.S is on the rise augmenting by 17 per cent in 2004 as compared to year 1990. According to the Energy Information Administration of U.S, global warming pollution in U.S will be increasing by another 45 per cent over the next two decades. Emission from cars, power plants and sports utility are the greatest source of global warming pollution in the U.S.

To minimize the global warming pollution, the U.S can employ current technology by making factories and power plants more efficient, design cars that run farther on a gallon of gasoline and move to adopt cleaner technologies like using of biofuels, hybrids, solar and wind power and these measures will reduce the dependence on oil, minimize air pollution and foster a strong economy. The introduction of the Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Act of 2006 is a positive step towards containing pollution in U.S.

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Further, the above report also lists out the following are the top ten globe’s pollution concerns:

  • Quality of air in urban areas.
  • Pollution caused due to failure to treat sewage.
  • Infectivity caused in groundwater.
  • Contamination of surface water.
  • Gold mining.
  • Mining activities by industries.
  • Smelting and processing of metals.
  • Mining of uranium and emanation of radioactive waste.
  • Recycling of Battery employing used lead-acid.
  • Indoor air pollution. (Business Wire, 2008).

Air pollution is said to be one of the reasons for the prevalence of asthma among school children, which resulted in school absenteeism. In a research study carried over by USC Keck School of Medicine reveals that those children who reside near freeways are having a higher probability of having asthma. This research has corroborated a close link between vehicle-produced air pollution and bad health effects, particularly respiratory diseases among children. The researchers have examined about 208 children who lived near freeways and found that these children have larger levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), an air pollutant that emanates from vehicle engines. Consumer health-promoting groups have insisted that worst polluting vehicles should be barred from plying in highways. It is to be observed that the worst polluting vehicles comprises only ten percent of the vehicles on the road, but they are emanating over 50 percent of air pollution by vehicles.

Children are said to be an easy prey for air pollution since their lungs are still in the budding stage, and they are likely to spend their rest hours outdoors, which amplifies their exposure. (Business Wire, 2005).

One research predicts due to global warming, about 60% of the world population is at risk of malaria. Ever-increasing global temperature may cut down the incubation period of mosquitoes spreading the disease. It is to be recalled that in 1990, there were 923,000 deaths in India caused from preventable diarrheal disease. This mortality could have been avoided with a sizeable investment in hygienic sanitation and sanitized drinking water. (Whelan, 1998).

The outbreak of the SARS virus in 2003 and avian influenza cases is no doubt due to regionalization and globalization. According to UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme), massive changes to the ecosystems that are mainly due to climate change and deforestation could foster ‘instability’ in the daily life and encourages the domination by pests.

According to WHO (World Health Organization), since 1976, there is an emergence of 31 new human diseases and reappearance and redistribution of existing diseases. One another study has revealed that as low as 1 percent increase in deforestation resulted in an 8 percent increase in malaria-carrying mosquitoes. It is to be noted that deforestation is also responsible for climate change and fosters situations conducive to the spread of malaria.

According to Wangari Mathai , the year 2004 Nobel Prize Winner , the reason for increased malaria infection is due to the use of plastic bags.

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The relation between disease and environment could also be linked to the outbreak of bilharzias, a severe disease caused by infestation with blood flukes. The bilharzia parasite is spread by snails. Due to globalization, the ecological system has been severely disturbed, which result in a barrage of contagious diseases that are tainting humankind, livestock and wildlife.

A research study carried out by Michelle et al revealed that exposure to air pollution even at minimum standards may enhance the risk of low birth weight, especially for some segment of the population.

Public health associations in U.S.A have vehemently argued that airborne lead from car exhaust had lowered children’s IQ and injured their memory.

According to Environment Protection Agency (EPA) between 1970 and 1980, the quantum of lead in American’s blood have decreased by 50 percent through the leaded gas was lost sold in U.S.A as early as 1996. Children can easily be endangered by airborne lead by inhaling lead particles or by contacting lead dirt outside or surfaces inside where lead elements deposit, then putting their hands into their mouths. (Shute, 2008).

The Effect of Greenhouse Gas Emission

Arrhenius discovered that all the coal which was being burned was actually affecting Earth’s outer atmosphere due to huge amount of emission of carbon dioxide and other pollutant gasses. Thus, the so emitted carbon dioxide and other gasses had trapped solar heat in the atmosphere like as the glass roof and fortifications of a greenhouse trap heat. Arrhenius discovered that ever increasing industrialization would definitely going to add much more gasses to the Earth’s atmosphere, making global temperatures to swell to several degrees in the years to come.

The greenhouse concept is the discharge of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the Earth’s environment, which will ensnare solar heat and such ensnaring will warm the not only earth’s outer surface but also the earth’s lower ambiance.

If the global temperature swells by another 7 degrees, then it may result in melting of polar ice, which may result in about a 3 to 4 foot increase in sea levels. If such a thing happens, then many low lying areas in the world, especially Bangladesh, Netherlands, Guam, Indonesia, Maldives, and Sri Lanka could be engulfed by sea waters.

An increase in global temperature may activate the increase of dreadful diseases like Malaria, Dengue fever, Virus fever, and other sub-tropical diseases. Ever-increasing temperature may upset weather patterns all over the world , causing starvation due to drought in prime food-producing regions, namely South Asia , sub-Saharan Africa, and tropical Latin America.

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Due to unprecedented increase in temperature, the whole gamut of species of animals and plants could be wiped out.

U.S.A, China and European Union emit almost 50% of the world’s carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Australia, U.S.A, and Canada have the highest per-capita emissions.

One important milestone on international legislation on global warming is the “Kyoto Protocol “where 35-nations including U.S.A have agreed in principle to check greenhouse gas emissions. An international treaty, namely ‘The Kyoto Protocol ‘was adopted in Kyoto, in Japan in 1997 mainly to curb the emissions of greenhouse gasses. The Kyoto Protocol has prescribed mandating limits on carbon emissions which took effect in 2005 nearly after eight years of it was introduced. Regrettably, U.S.A, the world’s top carbon emitter, has yet to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Some Energy companies and economists have proposed to introduce taxing carbon as an enticement to tempt both the industries and consumers to use low carbon-emitting fuels.

Global Warming and Health

Warm temperature may cause water and air pollution and in result in the spreading of dreadful diseases. According to IPCC, Chicago will witness 25% more frequent heatwaves, and Los Angles is projected to have a 4 to 8 fold increase in heat waves at the fag end of this century. Climate change may warrant the spreading of air borne diseases like causing severe damage to lung tissue, chronic asthma and other acute lung related diseases. Global warming may also trigger economic decline, social disruption, and displacement of populations in some provinces due to impact on scarce water sources and agricultural production.

Skin cancer is diagnosed more now due to Global warming. Global warming is caused by an exhaustion of the ozone layer. This depletion causes more UVB and UVA rays to reach the earth’s exterior. The UVB and UVA rays are responsible for causing skin cancer. Hence, as global warming is directly proportional to the spreading of skin cancer. The most lethal variety of skin cancer is melanoma. From 1981 onwards, melanoma has increased three percent per annum; one can safeguard himself from UVB rays by wearing sunscreen. However, nothing will defend one from UVA rays that inflict melanoma skin cancer and long-term skin damage. Hence, there is the possibility of health disorders as long as global warming exists.

The sudden escalation in agriculture, deforestation, industrial production, mining and landfills add a significant share of emissions. The gases that escaped into the earth’s atmosphere are ensnared by emission inventories. An emission inventory calculates the amount of air pollutants released into the atmosphere. These emission inventories are used by many organizations interested in global warming studies.

The Center for Disease Control has been engaged in analyzing global warming’s outcome on human health. Global warming is a peril to a human’s health. Its outcome on climate can badly affect humans. Global warming is said to be the reason for the spreading of the Plague. An increase in temperature will lead to a longer life cycle for disease spreading germs or the agents circulating them. Global warming will lead to more rainfall, which facilitates communicable diseases to be more easily contracted and spread.

Global warming can have an impact on our future skill to obtain food. Due to global warming, animals and plants are transforming their living style which will ultimately end in the change in the eating patterns of mankind. An increase in rainfall is one result of global warming that could have disturbing effects. Primarily, the features of crops would be impacted by an increase in rainfall. Further, abnormal rain could result in the escalation in soil erosion.

Some of the technique used to minimize the impact of global warming is to engage in controlling the consumption of the energy in for personal needs, by sharing car facilities, switching to battery-run or solar energy-based cars, and minimizing consumption of electricity are ways and means to minimize the impact of global warming.

If no action is being taken to control emission levels in the near future, in 2100, CO2 levels are projected to be around 31 -151% higher. Since our renewable resources is restricted, with prior planning and from cooperation from the global community , we can turn aside the impact of global warming by minimizing greenhouse gas emissions to bare minimum levels.

It is to be noted that the health impacts of various environmental pollutants are yet to be assessed. If the health effect of pollution is unchecked, it may end up in reduced work force and productivity and will be a major obstacle for reaping maximum economic growth both in developed, developing and under-developed countries.

Health hazards in China due to pollution are of more concern than any other country in the world. Death due to cancer has now predominated than that of heart diseases and cerebrovascular diseases. In China, populations of some cancer affected villages are being devastated by the disease. Jiangsu province, which lies on the north coast of Shanghai is not only the most industrialized province but also a most cancer-affected region. Though this region accounts for only 5 percent of China’s population, death due to cancer is about 12 percent as the river in the region is contaminated with 93 different carcinogens, vast portion are from untreated wastes from chemical factories situated in the region.

In a study perused by the Environmental Working Group in U.S in 2005, which analyzed the umbilical cord blood from randomly chosen from newborns in U.S hospitals revealed that they had about 287 chemicals in these tests. In this pollution era, even infants are at great peril since they are in the highly susceptible seminal stage of early identification.

According to WHO report, an approximate of deaths of 3 million happens every year around the globe purely due to air pollutants which is three times higher than that of traffic casualties.

A research study conducted by an U.K team has revealed that the rate of Parkinson and Alzheimer diseases has increased tremendously in the recent years and this is mainly due to increase in prevalence of industrial effluents, concentration of pesticides, emissions from motor vehicles and other forms of pollutants that exist in the environment. A research study conducted by Harvard School of Public Health revealed that high-level exposure to pesticides over a long period increased the peril of contracting Parkinson’s disease by about 70 percent.

It is a surprise to note that if a random blood test is conducted on Americans now, it would reveal the significant quantity of about 202 chemicals that did not present a century ago.

The impacts of mercury , a potent neurotoxin , which presently diffuses the atmosphere in almost in all countries with coal-based power plants and with the operation of gold mines is causing an increased concern for the scientists. For instance, it is estimated that gold mines around the world are releasing about 290,000 pounds of mercury into the ecosystem each year, and mercury released by coal-based power plants is estimated at 100,000 pounds each year into the atmosphere in the U.S.A alone. According to EPA of U.S.A, fish and water in rivers, waterways and lakes is U.S.A is affected by mercury released by power plants. In 2006 , all most all the states in the U.S.A except Alaska and Wyoming released a total of 3100 fish announcements cautioning against eating fish from local waterways due to the concentration of mercury in it.

Further, EPA has revealed that one out of every seven women of childbearing age in the U.S.A has adequate mercury exposure that will peril a developing fetus. This connotes that about 631,000 babies in the country each year may witness neurological damage from exposure to mercury before birth.

Scientists are also having concerns over the increased noise pollution and its effect on human health.

Noise pollution is caused due to noise from chimneys, from machineries, loudspeaker, traffic, airplanes, automobiles, construction work place noise, and airplanes. Total hearing loss may be caused if one exposes to noise above 105 dB of 8 hours per day for many years. Noise pollution can result in any of the following diseases.

  • Sleeping disturbances. A study revealed that traffic noise in the highway and noise due to flight takeoffs causes sleeping disturbances to individuals that deteriorate their health.
  • Cardiovascular and hypertension diseases. Impact on performance which may result in change in psychological and behavioral activity of a human being.

Persons with the irritating conduct suffer much from noise pollution. Those living near the airport are subject to higher psychiatry problems due to noise pollution.

Impact on Heart functioning

There is a close link between noise exposure and blood pressure, as evidenced by many studies on the subject. It is clinically established that both the heart rate and blood pressure are high for those who are exposed to noise pollution.

Environmental pollution causes a direct impact on the lungs and results in tuberculosis and asthma. It has also indirect impact on other parts of body. It is said that nitric oxide is reported to have a key role in vasodilatation, which causes hepatitis. It is clinically established that hepatitis has affected those who are residing near the environmentally polluted regions with respect to water , air , marine, and industrial pollution.

Beryllium emission through burning of coal and oil, manufacture of beryllium metal, mining activities, operation of cement plants, can cause dermatitis, inflation of mucous membrane which is also called as carcinogen and ulcers.

Cadmium emission is possible through processing of zinc, electroplating, manufacture of plastics, batteries, and pigments, and this will cause damage to kidneys, liver, lungs and can cause anemia.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) are organic compounds that are emitted into the environment may cause serious health disorders since they are highly toxic and very much persistent in the atmosphere. For many decades, PCB is used in hydraulic fluids, plastics and fire retardants. Disposal of material that contains PCB always led to environment pollution.

Thus , scientists are of the opinion that the impact of pollution due to global warming and emission of pollutants in the atmosphere will be drastically vary according to the susceptibility of the local population and geographical position. The probable health hazards would be many, including temperature associated illness and morbidity, extreme climate related health impacts , air pollution related health impacts , food and water borne diseases ,rodent and vector borne diseases , impact due to water and food shortage, and mental health implications.

Conclusion

Thus, the world community should strive hard to reduce global warming and pollution to save the mother earth from annihilation. Kyoto protocol is the correct step in this direction. Every country should unite and cooperate for reducing pollutants in the air, land and water. If they are able to succeed in reducing the pollutants, diseases rate will be reduced dramatically, and spending on public health may be rationalized. All nations should introduce clean air act provisions which are identical to that of legislation in U.S.A to improve the air quality. Burning of fossil fuels should be minimized, and alternate energy like solar, wind, hydro energy should be tapped to minimize the pollution and to improve the health standards.

References

(2005) Vehicle Pollution Linked to Respiratory Illness in Children. Business Wire.

(2006). Coalition calls for reduced global warming pollution New Orleans City Business.

The 2008 Top Ten World’s Worst Pollution Concerns, Business Wire.

Jane Lloyd. (2006.) The Link between Environment and Diseases. UN Chronicle, Vol 43, (3-5).

Shute, Nancy. (2008). How to Protect Your Children From Toxic Lead.U.S. News & World Report NA. General One File. Gale.

Whelan, Elizabeth M. (1998). Global Warming Will Not Devastate Human Health. Wines & Vines. (2).

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