"Environmental Health and Safety" is a wonderful example of a paper on poisoning, toxicology, environmental health. Air pollution has been known to be a rampant health hazard in urban settings. This is because most of the activities carried out in urban settings produce toxic air pollutants. Air pollution can be categorized into two main forms. The first form is indoor air pollution. Indoor air pollution refers to the kind of air pollution that occurs within residential areas and offices. Smoke resulting from burning cooking fuel like charcoal, wood, paraffin, and smoking cigarettes is the main source of indoor air pollution.
On the other hand, outdoor air pollution refers to that which occurs outside residential places. Gases emitted from vehicles exhausts, industries, and dust from busy roads mainly cause outdoor air pollution. Indoor and outdoor air quality are important in that it has a number of health implications. This paper will highlight some health problems associated with air quality (California Air Resources Board, 2009). It is clear that air enters the human system mainly through the respiratory tract. This means that most of the health problems related to air quality are respiratory-related (Goss et al, 2004).
Carbon monoxide, for example, is a fatal indoor air pollutant because when inhaled, it can combine with blood resulting in a compound called carboxy-hemoglobin that reduces the ability of hemoglobin to bind with oxygen. Consequently, the supply of oxygen in the body becomes low. A low supply of oxygen causes death. It is also clear that most of the air pollutants can trigger allergic reactions in the respiratory tract causing conditions such as asthma (California Air Resources Board, 2009).
Most of the gases such as sulfur IV oxide, carbon IV oxide are acidic and when inhaled, they combine with the moisture along the respiratory tract causing corrosion. Additionally, research has revealed that outdoor air pollutants such as the gases released by vehicles or from the combustion of petroleum products are carcinogenic and hence can cause cancer (California Air Resources Board, 2009). Furthermore, it is clear that the common cold is highly prevalent in a dusty environment. This is because a poor quality air harbors viruses causing the common cold and hence when a person inhaled such gases, his or her chances of getting common cold becomes higher (Goss et al, 2004). Although it is clear that polluted air subjects the health of all people at risk, children are a more vulnerable group.
One of the major reasons is that their respiratory systems are still developing. This means that they are not immune to most of the pollutants. Because of this, any pollutant that enters into their system is perceived as a foreign material or allergen. Consequently, young children have a higher tendency of reacting to air pollutants than old people.
Consequently, introduction of any foreign particle irrespective of the amount leads to complications putting children at risk (California Air Resources Board, 2009). Moreover, children are mostly kept indoors especially when weather conditions are unfavorable that is when chilly or raining. This increases their exposure rate to indoor air pollutants and hence predisposing them to respiratory ailments. Studies have also proven that children use their skin as a mechanism of gaseous exchange as the respiratory tract develops.
Therefore, when children are exposed to dust, it settles on their skin blocking the pores involved in the exchange process. Lastly, it is also clear that the rate of respiration in children is higher than that of older people (Goss et al, 2004). Because of this, children have a higher potential of inhaling more pollutants than older people inhale, and hence they are more predisposed to health risks than adults are. Good respiratory health is a key determining factor in the effective performance of the daily to day activities of people (California Air Resources Board, 2009).
From the foregoing discussion, we have seen that air quality is necessary for a healthier life. This means that there is a need for the development of preventive measures that prevent air pollution. This section will discuss some preventive measures that can be taken to cut down the impact of air pollution on the community at large that would eventually reduce the exposure of children to air pollutants. For instance, in homes and residential areas, we should promote the use of unpainted and untreated wood for cooking.
This is because the combustion of paints in painted wood releases carcinogenic compounds that can predispose children to cancer (Goss et al, 2004). Proper ventilation should be a priority by ensuring that windows remain open throughout burning and cooking. In industries, incinerators should be installed to avoid the direct release of gases into the atmosphere. Laws governing the kind of fuels to be used by vehicles should be stepped up to ensure that lead products are eliminated. The community should engage in forestation and reforestation programs trees have the potential of promoting air purification and act as dust absorbers.
Lastly, it is also important to ensure that the amenities and facilities utilized by children such as schools and even their residential rooms should be fitted with fans to promote proper ventilation (Goss et al, 2004).
Goss C. H., Newsom S. A., Schildcrout J.S., Sheppard, L. & Kaufman, J. D. (2004). Effect of Ambient Air Pollution on Pulmonary Exacerbations and Lung Function in Cystic Fibrosis. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 169 (7): 816– 821.
California Air Resources Board (2009). Health Effects Research. Retrieved from the web on 12/1/11 at http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/health/healthres.htm