Effects of Air Pollution on Health

The effects of air pollution to the normal individual are very serious. They range from mild coughing to severe, life-threatening diseases. The negative effects are sometimes built over time and may not necessary be apparent during the first few years ever since the first time of exposure. One of the most common complications that happen because of air pollution is bronchitis.

Many studies have investigated the association between air pollution and bronchitis. One difficulty in comparing such studies is that a disease like chronic bronchitis is not always consistently defined. In addition, many different measures of pollution have been considered, ranging from actual measurements of sulfur dioxide and suspended particulates to "presumptive pollution," as measured by fog density.

Studies have compiled data from twenty-one areas in and around Buffalo, New York, and compared those areas in terms of the level of air pollution, income level, and the mortality rate for chronic respiratory disease which includes asthma, bronchitis, chronic interstitial pneumonia, bronhiectasis and emphysema, making use of cross tabulations.

Many physical characteristics were controlled; the death rates were age-race-sex specific. Some attempt was made to control for socioeconomic characteristics; the median family income of an area was classified into one of five levels and used as a control in the analysis.

The results indicated a close association between air pollution and chronic respiratory disease mortality, since a trend existed between pollution and mortality for each economic level. When areas ranging from pollution level 1 to level 4 were compared, the mortality rate increased by more than 100 percent in white males aged fifty to sixty-nine years. The other socio-economic factors were compared across areas and, despite some differences, it appeared unlikely that they could account for the observed patterns in the mortality rate.

Unfortunately, since no multi-variable statistical analysis was performed, one cannot estimate the increase in mortality associated with air pollution, while controlling for these other factors. However, the study does provide evidence of a causal relationship between air pollution and chronic respiratory disease mortality, even though it is difficult to estimate the magnitude of the association.

Researchers have investigated a total of 641 consecutive autopsies (excluding subjects under five years of age) for evidence of pulmonary autopsies that excluded subjects under five years of age for evidence of pulmonary anthracosis.

Among Nashville residents, deposition of anthracotic pigment increased with length of residence and, in females, was more severe in those who had lived in the most polluted areas of the city (as measured by concentration of haze and smoke). Examination of socioeconomic class which was based on hospital pay status and history of other related diseases failed to indicate patterns that would account for the findings.

The results, the studies and the professionals have all contributed to the one glaring fact-that the damage that air pollution brings is something that is sadly real and debilitating. If the person’s health is ravaged enough, the effects will ultimately claim a life in the long run.


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