Effects of Pollution

Effects of Pollution

While discussions about pollution tend to relate to global warming and longer-term effects on planetary health, there are a large set of factors which relate directly to the health implications for the most vulnerable members of the population - children, the elderly and those with limited immune systems.

When pollutants enter the air, they then disseminate into the systems of nearly everyone who is exposed to the chemicals. While the effects of CO2 upon the environment are well known in terms of the greenhouse gas effect, there has been considerable less attention to more toxic pollutants which enter the air.

Children are at greater risk for a number of reasons, including the fact that they spend more time outside during the summer, when pollution levels tend to the highest. Additionally, children's immune systems are more susceptible to pollutants during the development stage, especially as their organs and pone structures develop. Excessive exposure to contaminants in the air can increase the potential effects on children's respiratory and immune systems, while also inducing potential effects such as asthma

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Although legislation such as the Clean Air Act began to address particulate pollutants by specifying caps on their release, there are still outstanding issues related to the level of pollutants in the air, especially ozone, smoke, lead, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. In addition to federal level regulations, states have issued various regulations from their Environmental Protection Services, some of which are stricter in their enforcement while others open loopholes for more widespread use.

Ensuring that legislation is designed to incorporate not only the global, macro effects of pollution upon global warming, but also its impact upon public health is an important step to protecting the environment that has direct implications for quality of life on a daily basis.