One of the most critical medical issues associated with climate change is air quality, which is rapidly deteriorating. The whole population of the nation is at threat, although some groups of people are at higher risk due to the complex socio-genetic factors (“Climate change health,” n.d.). Respiratory diseases caused by climate change, such as asthma, strike children, pregnant women, the elderly, communities of color, people living in the Northeastern United States, and people living below the federal poverty level.
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Climate changes occurring on the Earth lead to an increase in average temperatures. The record-breaking warmth has been recorded in the last three years (“Climate change health,” n.d.). Consequently, the level of ambient air pollution, including ground-level ozone and particulate matter, increase. Existing evidence indicates that there is a direct correlation between ambient air pollutants and oxidative injury and inflammation (Samet, 2015).
Adding to the issue, climate change increases the intensity, spread, and frequency of wildfires, which in turn causes more air pollution. As it is estimated, wildfires are a major contributor to ambient pollutant levels in the Western US (Liu et al., 2016).
Other threats brought by climate change are a vast concentration of allergens in the air, fueled by longer pollen seasons, and mold growth in houses and flooded areas. Hence, fine particulate matter and allergens that are inhaled by people cause preterm birth (Strickland, 2015), cardiovascular system failure. Polluted air leads to asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which remains the 4th leading cause of death in the United States (“Pollutant linked to climate,” 2019).
Therefore, affecting society in many ways, and putting life expectancy at risk, respiratory health is an issue that needs to be addressed urgently. Presently, the air quality is regulated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency that is required to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for six common air pollutants (“Air quality,” n.d.). To initiate the policy changes the following steps might be suggested. First of all, the community has to realize that it has a voice in policymaking. It should summon responsible government officials and administrators to discuss the problem that affects all spheres of social life, including the economy.
Air quality thus should be recognized as a high priority issue and receive budgeting federally and locally. Secondly, standards for air quality in cities should be reviewed according to the current situation, as well as the impact of air quality on the lungs should be assessed regularly. Third, the importance of indoor air quality should be gauged, and recommendations for its maintenance should be developed. By far, this area is not being regulated, although it impacts the respiratory status of millions of US office workers adversely. Finally, annual medical on-site checkups could decrease the level of respiratory diseases and related costs.
To conclude, respiratory health problems associated with climate change should be addressed both globally and locally. Should these measures be implemented, they would benefit the nation in many ways. Better control over air quality would raise public awareness so that people would care about the air they breathe indoors. On the one hand, companies would spend more funds on air pollution alarm systems, cleaning equipment, and preventive screening, but on the other hand, it would decrease the level of hospital admissions from dirty air under climate change, positively affecting the health care system.
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Air quality – National summary. (n.d.). Web.
Climate changes health: Respiratory health. (n.d.). Web.
Liu, J. C., Mickley, L. J., Sulprizio, M. P., Dominici, F., Yue, X., Ebisu, K., & Bell, M. L. (2016). Particulate air pollution from wildfires in the Western US under climate change. Climatic change, 138(3-4), 655-666.
Samet, J. M. (2015). Ozone and respiratory health. The Story Continues. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 192(3), pp. 272–273.
Strickland, M. J., Hao, H., Chang, H. H., Holmes, H. A., Mulholland, J. A., Klein, M., & Darrow, L. A. (2015). Air pollution and preterm birth in the US State of Georgia (2002–2006): associations with concentrations of 11 ambient air pollutants estimated by combining Community Multiscale Air Quality Model (CMAQ) simulations with stationary monitor measurements. Environmental health perspectives, 124(6), 875-880.