air

Environmental pollution is the key concern for the humanity. It does not have any borders – each member of our planet is affected by its devastating effects. Air pollution is the main factor contributing to general environmental problems. It is the emission of particulates, harmful materials, and biological molecules into the Earth’s atmosphere and is caused by both human and natural factors. Nevertheless, the effects of air pollution are shocking. It causes numerous diseases in human organisms, animals, natural crops, ruins the balance of the environmental system, and even causes deaths. Air pollution is the largest environmental pollution risk factor. According to the research of WHO, seven million people around the world died because of the air contamination effects in 2012. This number is horrifying and calls for the extreme response. The decrease of the polluted air will help saving millions of lives. Its effects need to be discussed on a constant basis to implement the relevant prevention measures and minimize the negative.

The major concern associated with polluted air is its destructive health effects. It contributes largely to heart diseases, respiratory infections, lung cancer, stroke, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The most deaths caused by air pollution happen as a result of ischaemic heart disease and stroke. The results of a research suggest that there is a correlation between the increased number of cardiovascular disease result deaths and the increasing levels of pollution in recent years. Studies also show that in urban areas people suffer more from mucus hypersecretion, lower levels of lung function, chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The studies also detected the relation between the air pollution and cancer. The long-term exposure to PM2.5 (fine particulates) increases the mortality from lung cancer and cardiovascular mortality rates. In addition, Danish studies reported that there is an evidence of relation to the air pollution to the other than lung types of cancer, like cervical cancer and brain cancer. The negative effect on human health also affects the central nervous system. The studies confirmed that an early exposure of children to the high levels of air pollution have the same negative effects on the central nervous system as autism spectrum disorder and schizophrenia.

Low- and middle-income countries in the South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions have the highest mortality rate due to air contamination problems. Specifically in this region, WHO attributes approximately 3.3 million deaths to indoor and 2.6 million deaths to outdoor air pollution annually. The most polluted country is India. It has the highest mortality rate due to air pollution. Most deaths in India are caused by asthma. Another seriously affected country is China. The report of WHO states that air pollution killed more than 500,000 people in China in 2014. The calculations performed by the European Commission show that polluted air reduces the life expectancy in EU by more than nine months. The worst situation is in Benelux and Italy. The most vulnerable population group is children aged less than five years living in developing countries.

The research of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health revealed that even small exposure to the polluted air during pregnancy results in pregnancy complications and long-term health problems of the future children. The fetus is extremely sensitive to environmental factors. Moreover, the study concluded that the greater the exposure of the pregnant woman to the air pollution is, the higher is the risk of the intrauterine inflammation causing the premature birth and associated health problems as a result. Women exposed to higher levels of air pollution were twice likely to develop the intrauterine inflammation than women who were exposed to the EPA acceptable pollution levels. Twenty years ago the researchers of the John Hopkins School detected the strong correlation between the extremely high levels of air contamination and premature birth. The current study, nevertheless, develops the research stating that even small amounts of air pollution contribute to premature birth.

In addition to destructive health effects, air pollution has a negative impact on the agricultural system and weather conditions, it changes the climate, ruins the crops, and causes foliage injuries. Plants suffer from necrotic lesions, yellowing of leafs which lead to reduced growth and death. The key contributors to the ruination of crops and plants are oxidants, sulfur dioxide, fluoride, ammonia, and particulate matter (cement dust, magnesium-lime dust, carbon soot). The example of India shows that the air polluted by black carbon and ground level ozone contributed to the cut of crop yields. In 2010 Indian crop yields were almost half of the 1980 level yields. Farmers try to cope with the decreased crop yield problem by pesticides and insecticides yet the main problem is probably in the field of air pollution that decreases the overall productivity of the agricultural systems.

Air pollution is the number one problem for environmental researchers and activists’ groups and is the result of anthropogenic and natural contamination of the air with gasses and harmful materials (dust, oxides, sulfates, etc.). It has a devastating impact on human and animal health, agricultural crops, and even on an unborn fetus. The results of the studies suggest that key health problems caused by air pollution are the cardiovascular diseases, respiratory infections, and lung cancer. Recent research shows that it contributes to other types of cancer, including cervical cancer and brain cancer. Also, air contamination has a negative effect on the central nervous system causing the aberrations equaling autism and schizophrenia in their severity. Most deaths caused by air pollution occur due to ischaemic heart disease, stroke, pneumonia, and lung cancer. The most affected regions are the South-East Asia and Western Pacific region. India is the country with the biggest number of deaths due to this problem. Children aged under five form the most vulnerable group. Air pollution is the global problem that affects each and every member of the global society. Thus, the international community has to gather the initiatives in order to cope with the problems and minimize the negative effects on our planet.

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