Centuries of years ago people died from incurable at that time diseases, however, they were oblivious of the threats which humanity faces today, namely the constant dangers to people’s health caused by the globalization and urban sprawl. With the development of high technologies, people envision a great potential in the modernized cities which have become for them the primary source of income. Not much attention is paid to the environmentally-unfriendly factories and vehicles as they bring speed and profit to their owners. On the other hand, much talk tackles the problems of the polluted planet and health of humans on it, but oftener that talk remains within word frames, and does not reach the action mode.
The range of health issues caused or amplified particularly by the air pollution is increasing gradually nowadays. Those patients who suffer from such diseases as asthma face special challenges as with each inhaling they receive a huge number of irritating bacteria which make their breathing a difficult process restricting their ability to lead a full-value life (Bray, 2005).
The problem of the rapid urbanization is not tied just to the territory of the United States, however, can be found throughout the whole world, especially well-developed and developing countries. Despite the negative side effects of the technological development, new, highly-efficient equipment for treating difficult or even incurable before diseases is also being invented, tested, and applied. The costs for this equipment are very high, but the progress foreshadows that with time medicine will become more affordable and simultaneously more effective (Frumkin et al., 2002).
The controversy in the technological progress polluting our environment and diminishing natural resources and, therefore, negatively influencing humans’ lives as well as helping to cure serious illnesses or alleviate the painful effects of others is undeniable. One action entails another, helping and at the same time destructing the health of people (Asthma and Air Pollution, 2005).
Over 20 million Americans are suffering from the symptoms of asthma. When the person has a strike of asthma, the airways become very constricted and swollen, filling gradually with the mucus. The patient can start gasping or coughing because the chest feels very tight hindering the easy catch of breath. In the worst cases, asthma can lead to the fatal outcome. In the United States about 5,000 people succumb to this severe illness each year (Asthma and Air Pollution, 2005).
The disease is a chronic, usually weakening condition that, unfortunately, has no cure in the modern world yet. Asthma keeps children out of school (in general, up to14 million missed school days per year, as the Centers for Disease Control informs) and prevents them performing any physical activity, therefore, leading to even more serious problems with health. Employees miss 12 million working days each year when because asthma strokes hinder them to visit their workplaces. Over two million emergency-room visits are due to the asthma fits per year (Asthma and Air Pollution, 2005).
Understanding the causes of the disease helps to keep asthma in check. It is comparatively easy to avoid tobacco smoke, dust, and cockroach droppings, however, the triggers of the illness are nowadays reaching a far different scale and can be found just in the air which becomes both a life savior and a life killer due to the pollutants which saturate it. As the research shows, in recent years, the air pollution emitted by cars, power plants and factories is a key cause of attacks of asthma. Moreover, approximately 159 million Americans – which constitute over half the population of the entire nation – inhabit areas with bad air conditions (Frumkin et al., 2002).
Scientists estimate that over 30 percent of asthma that strikes children is caused by the environmental issues, costing the country $2 billion each year. Furthermore, the same study suggests that such extreme and still growing air pollution can contribute to the future development of asthma in those people who have been previously in a good health. The traffic on the roads is not only contributing greatly to the problems of the greenhouse effect around the whole world, responding for over 26 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States but also is considered to be the main trigger of the increase of the people ill with asthma (Frumkin et al., 2002).
Except for well-known triggers of the asthma fits, the air of present days contains many more dangerous particles which greatly add up to already long ago existing problem. Ground level ozone, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter. and nitrogen oxide cause much more complications nowadays than in past years as their percentage in the air grew significantly (Bray, 2005).
A very toxic constituent of smog, ozone, leads to asthma attacks and worsens the existing asthma. Moreover, it can easily be the cause of asthma development in children. This ozone is created at ground level when pollution from the tailpipe in trucks and cars gets into reaction with sunlight and oxygen. Ground level ozone is a gigantic issue for a lot of cities with active traffic (for example, New York City, Houston, and Los Angeles). According to the American Lung Association, in 2004, over 136 million people inhabited the areas that were far from the ozone air quality standards.
Sulfur dioxide is produced when crude oil and coal are burned, strongly irritating the respiratory system and causing asthma attacks. Coal-fueled power plants, especially older ones that burn coal without sulfur dioxide pollution controls, are among the worst sulfur dioxide polluters. One out of five Americans inhabits the area located about ten miles from a coal-fueled power plant. Diesel engines and oil refineries that work on high-sulfur fuel also emit large amounts of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere enlarging the existing problem (Frumkin et al., 2002).
Particulate matter includes a wide variety of pollutants, beginning with dust, fly ash, soot, exhaust particles of diesel, and ending the list with the sulfate aerosols and wood smoke, that are all suspended as miniscule particles in the atmosphere. Some of them may get lodged in the human’s lungs and trigger severe asthma attacks. The research has proved that the number of hospitalizations because of the fits of asthma is constantly increasing, especially when the level of particulate matter in the atmosphere rises. Diesel vehicles, factories, and coal-fueled power plants are most influential sources of pollution by particulates. Approximately 81 million people inhabit those areas which fail completely to meet the national air quality standards for particulate matter.
Nitrogen oxide, bring a gas released by power plants and tailpipes, contributes to the creation of smog and ground-level ozone. Furthermore, it gets into reaction with other air pollutants to create tiny particles that may lead to breathing difficulties, particularly in people ill with asthma.
During the past fifteen years a lot has been done to improve the air quality across the whole country, however, air pollution still constitutes a great health risk for hundreds of thousands of Americans. Stricter national air quality standards for ozone and particulate matter can help significantly clear the atmosphere by providing states with a much more powerful tool to eliminate polluters. Moreover, the standards would notably encourage industries to start using cleaner fuels as an effective equivalent to heavy diesel which exhausts are linked to asthma problems as well as more serious cancer causes. Forcing coal-fueled power plants to operate only with sulfur dioxide controls and establish scrubbers which can curb their emissions can significantly help decrease health risks for all asthma sufferers as well as people who inhabit near areas of those polluting facilities. Using even more productive and innovative method, would be to put cleaner, more fuel-efficient trucks and cars on the national roads which can drastically cut down the emissions of nitrogen oxide including many other chemicals that add up to ozone formation.
The environmental issues that are the outcome of quite uncontrolled urban growth are multiple and increasing all the time, therefore, having a large impact on the public health. As recent research proves, long-term exposure to the highly polluted atmosphere causes lung cancer, asthma (as well as aggravating the existing symptoms of the illness), affecting the normal development and even growth of the lungs of children. Those people who do a lot of outdoor activities (for example, sports) in the polluted areas are even more inclined to develop the serious diseases, as the frequency of inhaling of the air increases with active, physical pressure, leading directly to asthma, which, by now, is considered to be one of the most wide-spread chronic illnesses in the United States (Bray, 2005).
Urban sprawl and problems with the public health, particularly respiratory system issues, are closely connected, as tiny particles of heavy pollutants are constantly present in the air that millions of people inhale each second. Polluted atmosphere greatly adds up to the mortality and morbidity of people. Cities with a lot of traffic and many powerful factories, highly developed cities where the majority of people are dreaming to live, are gradually killing those citizens without putting their consciousness on alert that the vital for life breathing brings them a lot of harm.