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How Does Air Pollution Affect Humans Health

5 min read

How Does Air Pollution Affect Humans Health – Air quality is not normally one of the criteria considered by planners, architects and developers when deciding what to build and where, but it should be. Knowing what the air quality is in a particular place at a particular time and being able to relate this to human activities both near and far is important information. This is especially true when considering the health and well-being of the most vulnerable among us – young children – who are often overlooked by those who protect and improve the built environment of our cities.

One in ten deaths among children under five worldwide is attributed to air pollution. Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution because they breathe up to four times faster than adults, absorb more pollution, and their brains and bodies are still developing. To make matters worse, concentrations of air pollutants may be higher near where young children breathe.

How Does Air Pollution Affect Humans Health

While the path to rebuilding our cities to improve children’s health is winding and complex, there are two simple directives that can guide us. First, reduce exposure to air pollution in places where young children spend time, and invite young children and their caregivers to spend time in places with better air quality. Second, empower marginalized communities most affected by poor air quality by improving their capacity to collect and interpret air quality data, educating youth and adults about the health effects of exposure to polluted air, and giving them a place at the decision-making table.

How Air Pollution Is Destroying Our Health

In Copenhagen, Gehl piloted a guidelines-driven approach that included an assessment of how streets, child care facilities, and public spaces were laid out, as well as careful observation of who lived in those spaces, traveled in them, and what they did. By cross-referencing this information with local air quality data collected by Google Street View cars, Gehl was able to identify where and when children and their caregivers were most exposed to air pollution and recommend street design interventions (removing on-street parking, planting trees). Buffer plants between the street and the sidewalk and traffic calming measures, among others; This will reduce air pollution concentrations where exposure to children and caregivers is highest. Additionally, “cleaner airway” signs were installed directing pedestrians to secondary streets with less congestion, and seating was placed in the middle of the block to invite children and their caregivers to travel and spend time in areas with less air pollution.

While Gehl’s approach to the first directive is clearly effective in reducing exposure to air pollution for children and their caregivers, the first directive is not sufficient when used in isolation from the second. Inequalities in access to clean air are the result of inequalities in access to political power; Therefore, the root cause of the problem is not a completely technocratic approach. So you can redesign the urban environment to move people away from air pollution, but this does little to reduce source pollution or address unequal air pollution exposure across cities and regions. Achieving this type of systemic change requires marginalized communities most affected by air pollution to be in the driver’s seat; That they have sovereignty over the air quality data collected and have access to the resources and stakeholder networks needed to translate their findings into action.

In concrete terms, acting in accordance with the letter and spirit of the second directive requires community-based organizations that legitimately represent the interests of their communities to:

It is a model for how environmental monitoring should be done. The New York Environmental Justice Alliance and its community-based partners led every aspect of the project, from study design to final report, and are currently actively working with the City and State of New York to determine how this should be done and conduct additional air surveillance. work. Developing interventions and strategies to reduce pollution from sources concentrated in low-income communities and communities of color.

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Ultimately, reducing children’s and their caregivers’ exposure to air pollution depends on a transformation not only in the way governments create the first directive (the first directive) but also in the way they study the second directive. We must view children and their caregivers not as actors to be acted upon, but as actors in their own right, embedded in communities that have been acting to overcome rather than overcome deficiencies in quality of life for decades, if not centuries. privileged citizens. Communities whose struggles for equality are the foundation from which our concept of inalienable human rights arises, including the right to breathe clean air. Air pollution affects everything. It is harmful to our health and affects the environment by reducing visibility, blocking sunlight, causing acid rain and damaging forests, wildlife and agriculture. Greenhouse gas pollution, the cause of climate change, affects the entire planet.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately seven million people die from air pollution every year. More than 4,000 people died in just a few months due to severe smog in London in 1952. Ground-level ozone causes the muscles in the lungs to contract, making it difficult to breathe. Exposure to high levels of ozone can cause sore throat, cough, lung inflammation, and permanent lung damage.

Symptoms from short-term exposure usually resolve quickly, but long-term exposure is associated with serious illness and disease in multiple body systems. Children, the elderly and people with chronic diseases are more sensitive to air pollution than other groups. Urban populations are also at greater risk due to high pollution concentrations in cities. Check the current air quality in your area to determine if you need to take precautions, such as reducing or avoiding outdoor activities.

Wildlife can experience many of the negative health effects of air pollution experienced by humans. The most common effect in animals is damage to the respiratory system, but neurological problems and skin irritations are also common.

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Plants and crops exposed to long-term air pollution grow less well. Ozone pollution harms plants by damaging structures called stomata, which are small pores on the underside of leaves that allow the plant to “breathe.” Some plant species can protect themselves by temporarily closing their stomata or producing antioxidants, but others are particularly susceptible to damage. Between 1980 and 2011, $9 billion worth of soybeans and corn were lost in the United States due to ozone pollution. When acid rain, lead poisoning, and exposure to nitrogen oxides change the chemical makeup of soil, plants are deprived of the nutrients they need to grow and survive. This situation affects agriculture, forests and pastures.

There are many other ways air pollution affects living things, such as damaging the habitat, water and food sources that plants and animals need to survive.

Burning fossil fuels releases sulfur and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere. Acid rain occurs when sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide combine with water droplets in the atmosphere to form sulfuric acid and nitric acid. Winds can carry these pollutants thousands of kilometers until they fall to the Earth’s surface as acid rain, which damages foliage in vegetation, increases the acidity of soil and water, and is linked to more than 500 deaths each year. Buildings and other structures are also affected by acid rain, causing approximately five billion dollars in property damage every year. Acid rain dissolves the mortar between bricks, causes stone foundations to become unstable, and destroys ancient buildings and statues carved from marble and limestone.

High levels of particle pollution from any type of combustion reduce the amount of sunlight reaching the surface and even change the appearance of the sky. When less sunlight is available for photosynthesis, forests grow slower and crops are less productive. Foggy skies not only reduce visibility but also affect weather and even climate.

Effects Of Pollution On Human Health

The ozone hole over Antarctica in 2019 (shown in blue) was the smallest ozone hole since the hole was discovered. The ozone hole continues to narrow since CFCs were banned, but scientists warn that full recovery is still uncertain.

The hole in the ozone layer is caused by air pollutants. Chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used as refrigerants contain chlorine atoms. The release of chlorine atoms into the atmosphere destroys ozone. A single chlorine atom can destroy thousands of ozone molecules. The ozone layer protects us by blocking harmful ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation from the Sun, similar to applying sunscreen to your skin to prevent sunburn. The ozone hole increases the amount of UVB reaching the surface, endangering all living things. UVB exposure increases the risk of skin cancer in humans, limits plant growth and development, slows the development of fish and amphibians, and reduces the number of phytoplankton in marine ecosystems. UVB also causes natural and synthetic materials to break down faster.

Ammonia gas (NH3) from agriculture and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from cars, trucks,

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