Natural Sciences

Influence of Air Pollution on Asthma: Report from an Environmental Expert

Introduction

Currently, the environment is under the threat of pollution due to constant emissions of gases and foreign substances contaminating water, air, and soil. All these processes have a negative influence on welfare and health of people who have a negative reaction to air pollution and water contamination, such as asthma. Although there is no direct evidence proving that air pollution causes asthma, it is obvious that environmental problems have aggravated the condition for people who have susceptibility to asthma. A deeper examination of the problem can allow providing parallels and exploring the cases and research studies supporting the ideas. At this point, it should be assumed that air pollution and ecological problem can create new foreign substances that cause overreaction of organisms to external irritants, leading to allergic responses, and asthma is one of them.

Definition of Asthma

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, asthma is a complex disorder that is widely spread in the United States. This disease is associated with lung disorders and complicated breathing. It often occurs among children because they are more sensitive to external stimuli and have a weaker immune system. Asthma causes breathlessness, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. A person suffering from asthma could have frequent attacks of lung disorders and problems with breathing.

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Asthma is a disease that demands accurate diagnosis by healthcare experts who should carry out an ongoing assessment and monitor the disorder in the course of time. During the first visit, an asthma care provider should determine the degree of severity and develop a treatment plan. Each subsequent visit should be followed by an assessment and asthma control, adjusting the treatment plan to the required changes. For diagnosing asthma, the doctor should evaluate symptoms, history, and develop a physical exam, looking at the examination and test results.

Asthma Causes

The genuine cause of asthma could not be identified for sure, but numerous studies have revealed a range of factors that can enhance the probability of its development. These factors involve genetics, growth and development of the lungs, infections, and external exposures to the environment. To begin with, it is evident that asthma could be regarded as an inherited disease. At the same time, the genes that are involved into its development have not been defined. It is reported that the genes related to asthma can involve the immune system and the lungs. It is also well recognized that atopic diseases, such as allergic rhinitis, atopic dermatitis, and asthma could be detected in different forms within families. Further, the early development could show children’s susceptibility to asthma. The abnormal growth and development of lungs can contribute to the increased risks for the emergence of the disease. Numerous studies have also demonstrated that adults and children suffering from asthma have an immune system that differs from those who are not likely to have it. People with asthma, therefore, are more allergic and react differently to external stimuli. Such an immune system is too aggressive to external environment, resulting in disorders and problems with lungs and breathing. Finally, there are also non-allergic individuals who are likely to suffer from asthma because of environmental emissions and secondhand smoke. The above-presented assumptions could be checked and have the right to exist, but there is a need to carry out additional research in genetic and healthcare to support the ideas and hypotheses regarding the genuine causes of asthma.

Explaining the Concept of Trigger

It should be admitted that asthma is considered the most widely spread chronic condition that affects children all over the world and in the United States in particular. It has been reported that, “more than 10 million children under age 18 (14%) have been diagnoses with asthma and 6.8 million children (9%) remain with this condition”. Therefore, inhaled medications are the main means for treating asthma and reverting its symptoms. Adherence to medication sessions involves the use of inhaled formulations, but children often take only half of the prescribed drugs. Adherence, therefore, constitutes one of the major problems because dosing schedules should be under greater control to remove allergic symptoms and asthma recessions. Lunsford has introduced the description of new medication – fluticasone furoate. This medication was ratified by the Food and Drug Administration as the treatment for patients with asthma aged over 12 years. The medication refers to inhaled corticosteroid that is taken once a day and is available in several strengths. The trigger of asthma has been detected previously to understand what ignites the difficulties with breathing.

According to American Lung Association, asthma is trigged by a range of reasons, such the environment, allergies, respiratory infections, and genetic inheritance. Occupational exposures are also among serious factors. In case a patient has asthma, exposure to elements in the working environment can lead to the emergence of asthma symptoms. Air pollution could also cause the development of the disease. Thus, people who grew up in urban areas are more prone to be affected by the lung disorder. As a result, it is highly important for healthcare professionals to take into consideration this fact.

There are a lot of triggers of asthma, varying from one person to another. Some people can perceive the symptoms in a milder way, whereas others react too critically, which may lead to serious outcomes. The common triggers of asthma include allergies. I such cases, people deal with allergic asthma, and common allergens can be dangerous for them, such as pollens, cockroaches, pet dander, dust mites, or rodents. In addition, irritants in the air could also trigger asthma. The air can include wood fires, smog, ozone, smoking ash, chemicals, strong vapors, fumes, or odors. Respiratory illnesses could also become the precursor of asthma; it can relate to sore throats, colds, flu, or pneumonia. Children are most likely to acquire the disorder due to such triggers. Finally, asthma could develop due to lengthy exposure to cold air or exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. It is not yet evident whether emotional difficulties are on the list of asthma triggers. Fear, anger, crying, extreme excitement, and laughter could lead to the emergence of asthmatic problems.

Difference between Asthma and Allergies

Before introducing the differences between asthma and allergies, it is essential to provide the definition for both. To enlarge on the issue, allergies refer to the overreaction of the organism to a foreign substance that enters the body, such as animal danger or pollen. This substance could cause reactions that are called allergens. The task of the organism and the immune system is to define the foreign substance and get rid of it. However, an allergic response takes place when the immune system is too aggressive in producing antibodies to cope with the foreign substance. These antibodies are the main reason of watery eyes, a runny nose, swelling, and sneezing. In contrast, asthma could be presented as one of the reaction to an invasion of a foreign substance into the human organism. However, in contrast to allergy, asthma could be provoked not only by allergic reactions, as it has been described before.

Role of Heredity

One of the frequent questions regarding patients’ concerns with the relative risk of a child developing asthma and allergies are associated with the environment in which they reside. At the same time, genetic predisposition together with the environment are among the leading factors complicating the disease conditions. According to Szeftel and Shiel, genetic asthma has long been researched and linked to asthma because of numerous precedents. Although it does not provide sufficient evidence for its genetic cause because it can also reflect some environmental outcomes, several studies conclude that heredity contributes to a predisposition to asthma, specifically when allergies and other conditions have been detected. Furthermore, it is possible to focus on the inheritance of asthma by next generations. Therefore, there are specific ratios that prove the connection. Szeftel and Shiel have defined, “6.5 % of families in which neither parent has asthma have a child with asthma, 28 % of families in which one parent has asthma a child with asthma, [and] 63 % of families in which both parents have asthma have at least one child with asthma”. These observations could not exclude the fact of heredity of asthmatic conditions within the corresponding family record.

Influence of Smoking on Asthma

When a person has asthma, its attack can occur in the presence of certain external irritants that trigger the emergence of the disease. Smoking ash could be among those triggers. Indeed, Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention has stated that tobacco smoke is considered to be the most widespread common asthma trigger, including secondhand smoke, which has a negative effect on everyone regardless of people’s specific reactions to external stimuli. It has also been reported that secondhand smoke is composed of over 7,000 chemicals, involving hundreds of toxins, among which 70 could lead to cancer development. People who suffer from asthma should avoid passive smoking. Active smokers suffering from the disorder should quit smoking. People who are working in a team with active and regular smokers should particularly pay attention to this disease.

Myths and Facts about Asthma

In order to fight asthma, greater awareness of healthcare professionals and the community is required. The Environmental Protection Agency works on supporting a local program aimed at helping people to bring asthma spread under control. The first stage of managing the disease is to raise awareness throughout the society to prove that asthma is a dangerous and even life-threatening chronic disorder, which should be controlled. The agency has designed the Asthma Community network for initiating community-based asthma programs to achieve and control higher quality of life and health improvement for people suffering from this disease. Each May, numerous organizations in the United States join their efforts to support Asthma Awareness Month and increase social awareness, improve the quality of life for families and their children. There are various tools and resources adjusted to promote the new program’s events and activities.

Air Pollution and Its Influence on Breathing

While investigating the influence of air pollution on health conditions, six substances have been chosen – carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone, lead, and particulates. As for the first, carbon dioxide is emitted by motor vehicles with any type of fuel. It negatively affects the work of heart, damaging the blood system and reducing the oxygen supply to the heart and brain. It can cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea, which in turn can become a threat to people with asthma. Furthermore, nitrogen dioxide is produced by plants and motor vehicles. It can lead to throat and nose irritations, particularly among patients suffering from asthma. It also increases the probability of respiratory infections, combined with organic compounds. Sulphur dioxide is produced by power plants, diesel vehicles, and large industrial facilities. It aggravates lung diseases, leading to bronchitis. It also complicates breathing among asthmatic people and those who are exposed to heavy cardio exercises. Ozone is formed from air pollutants such as organic compounds and nitrogen oxide. The substance irritates breathing passages and lungs, leading to chest pain, coughing, and sore throats. It also increases the probability of respiratory infections and decreases the ability to do physical exercises. The outcomes could be even worse for asthmatic people. Lead destroys the nervous system and brain, whereas particulates contribute to heart failure and lung disorders. Predominantly, all these types of substances have a negative effect on lungs, leading to severe complications for people with asthma. The study shows that air pollution is not the genuine reason for asthma development, but it can become the trigger of complications for people who have already suffered from the chronic disease.

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Guidelines for Business to Take Control of Asthma Spread

Apart from the initiative developed specifically for the community, the EPA should also develop exceptional health plans and active healthcare providers who should be rewarded with benefits. The award is the highest recognition of the program and its manager, who can excel in environment management along with a comprehensive asthma control service. The agency is also dedicated to enhancing the quality of life of asthmatic people by introducing sound science into public health programs. In addition to these programs, the major objective is to deliver the highest standards in management and asthma care.

The environmental leadership award for asthma management is regarded as the highest appraisal of the program that assists people suffering from asthma. The winner will also be recognized during Asthma Awareness Month. They will demonstrate the sign of excellence. Such an award could also contribute to higher reputation of the establishment (United States Environment Protection Agency). Thus, the given program could become strong motivation for the business organization to work on the improvement of the environmental and support ecological programs.

There should be specific policies at a national level, which could control urban smog and emission of substances from industrial facilities. Local officials in the United States should focus on the deadlines of the Clean Air Act Amendments to clean cities and implement the initiatives in the future. The Environmental Protection Agency has also proposed a number of policies, beginning with carpooling, enhanced maintenance programs, and inspections of technology standards for new emissions and factor emissions on show blowers and chain saws. Although those policies require additional costs, they should still promote new initiatives for controlling factor emissions and te national standards, which could ban the emission of gases and limit the production processes in terms of their harm to the environment. Additionally, such an approach is especially effective for introducing a new concept of a clean city. Hence, the U.S. department of Energy has launched the program called Clean City whose primary purpose is to advance the nation’s environmental, economic, and energy security by promoting local actions and reducing the use of transportation. Being a part of clean cities, the project has already reduced gas emissions by 7.5 gallons of fuel since 1993. Recently, nearly 100 coalitions could serve as the foundation for the program by presenting the reduction of petroleum use in communities all over the country. The clean cities project is also associated with the development of environmentally friendly businesses, eco-mobiles, and new philosophy of life in general.

At a national level, the program is aimed at promoting and developing publications, tools, and partnerships. Locally, the project focuses on collecting resources and tools for developing networks of regional stakeholders, as well as for providing technical assistants to fleets employing renewable and alternative fuels, fuel economy improvements, and idle-reduction measures. The Clean Cities initiative is confined to reducing petroleum dependence at local, national, and state levels. The support involves establishing partnerships with public and private sector coalitions and transportation stakeholders. It also focuses on developing objectives and unbiased information resources regarding alternative fuels and other strategies aimed at reducing petroleum use. The advancement of interactive online tools for evaluating options and reaching goals is also among the initiatives supported by the Clean Cities project. Finally, the project works on providing technical assistance to promote the deployment of alternative fuels, reduction measures, and advanced vehicles. Work with industry partners and development of new decision-making opportunities could also introduce new improvements in terms of environmental protection. As such, the project could also provide a better ecologically clean environment for people suffering from asthma and allergies. Moreover, such a project could reduce expenses on medications and other tools for treating asthma and other related disorders that are associated with gas emissions and environmental pollution.

Conclusion

The information presented above introduces the correlation between asthmatic problems, healthcare initiatives, environmental pollution, and external factors affecting people who have asthmatic complications and allergic asthma. Both types of asthma could be hereditary because of the overreaction of people to external irritants. The aggressive protection is promoted by antibodies, which lead to allergies that in turn cause high blood pressure, wheezing, dizziness, headaches, and lung disorders because of a sore throat and swelling of the breathing routes. Such challenges are predetermined by urban areas in which such people live. However, there is no direct connection between asthma development and environmental pollution. Rather, air pollutants only complicate the conditions of people who are more susceptible to external stimuli. Such an approach should be taken into consideration since heredity is among the leading reasons for asthma development along with hereditary allergic reactions of organisms. There are numerous treatment sessions and medications developed specifically for such people. However, they could be effective only when they are regularly taken or during seasons of increased concentration of such substances in the air. There are a lot of initiatives, agencies, and programs working on cleansing the environment and reducing gas emissions by promoting new standards for business ventures and industrial plants that produce potentially dangerous products. However, multiple limits and penalties have made the industries more aware of healthcare problems and challenges for asthmatic people. The Clean Cities is one of such programs, which has positively contributed to the welfare of the city and provides a new view on an environmentally friendly society. Increasing the community’s awareness is an integral part of such a program because it provides a strong support for environment activists. A holistic approach to such issues is demanded to feel tangible shifts. As soon as other regions in the country and abroad join the initiative, the entire world will witness noticeable improvements.

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