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Smog has been around for a pretty long time, people just knew it as something else. Smog comes from the word smoke and fog, and that's practically what it is. It was a serious problem before, before nature and humans went unharmed in the presence of smog but now it's serious. What does all of this polluted air do to the body? The answer depends on the situation. How long a person is exposed to pollution, the type and concentration, the place, time and day, temperature, weather and more.
But one thing is certain: Smog is harmful to your health. Lungs are ozone's primary target. Studies on animals show that ozone damages cells in the lung's airways, causing inflammation and swelling. It also reduces the respiratory system's ability to fight infection and remove foreign particle. Ozone may pose a particular health threat to those who already suffer from respiratory problems such as asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
About 10 % of the basins approximately 14 million residents fit into this category. Ozone may also pose a health threat to the young, elderly and cardiovascular patients. Ozone affects healthy people as well. In 1990, the State Air Resources Board established a new health advisory level in response to mounting evidence that smog affects healthy, exercising adults at lower levels than previously believed. Now, a health advisory is issued at. 15 parts per million (on the pollutant standards index) before a first stage smog alert is called when ozone levels reach. 20 ppm. During a health advisory, everyone, including healthy adults and children are advised to avoid prolonged, vigorous outdoor exercise.
Susceptible individuals, including those with heart or lung disease, should avoid outdoor activities until the advisory is canceled. Currently, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing the adequacy of the federal health standard for ozone and is considering tightening it. The sources of pollution include emissions from on-road vehicles, non-road vehicles like planes, ships and trains, industries, and even small businesses and households where polluting products are used. Ozone, an invisible gas, is not emitted directly into the air, but forms when nitrogen oxides from fuel combustion and volatile organic gases from evaporated petroleum products react in the presence of sunshine. Ozone levels are highest during the warm months when there is strong sunshine, high temperatures and an inversion layer.
Nitrogen oxides are produced when fossil fuels are burned in motor vehicles, power plants, furnaces and turbines. Carbon monoxide is a by-product of combustion that comes almost entirely from motor vehicles. Fine particles, which are emitted directly as smoke and diesel soot and form in the air out of nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides, obscure visibility and can be inhaled deep into the lungs. During the early years of World War II, Los Angeles residents began to realize the consequences of an increasingly industrialized area. Investigations began to determine the cause of resident's eye irritation, crop damage, severe reductions in visibility and the rapid deterioration of rubber products. "Smog" became a familiar word and everyday presence and scientists and medical personnel began to look at its effects on public health. In the mid- 1950 s, the state of California's Public Health division started to step up its efforts to define the problem of how and where smog forms, as well as address the health concerns associated with exposure to smog.
Ozone levels were reaching peaks of. 68 parts per million, more than six times the federal health standard. Early efforts to study the health effects of exposure to air pollution focused on acute exposure episodes. Only recently have the long-term exposure effects been addressed. In a 1956 survey sent out by the Los Angeles County Medical Association, physicians reported the following: There have been several episodes in history which illustrate the harmful effects of acute short-term exposure to air pollution. Among those include: During a five-day fog in December 1930, 63 people died, most of the deaths occurring on the fourth and fifth days. Older persons with previously known diseases of the heart or lungs accounted for the majority of fatalities.
The signs and symptoms were primarily those caused by a respiratory irritant. They include chest pain, cough, shortness of breath and irritation of the eyes. Sulfur dioxide gas is suspected as the cause of the disaster. Twenty people died and approximately 7, 000 or 50 % of the population, experienced acute illness during the week of Oct. 25, 1948, when temperature inversion and air stagnation occurred. Persons of all ages became ill, but those over 55 were more severely affected. Those with previous heart or respiratory disease, particularly bronchial asthma, suffered most.
Symptoms were primarily respiratory and secondarily gastrointestinal, and included cough, sore throat, chest constriction, shortness of breath, eye irritation, nausea and vomiting. The onset of the illness for most persons occurred on the evening of the third day. Of the 20 who died, 14 had some known heart or lung disease. Three episodes during which heavy fogs and air pollution were associated resulted in the death of nearly 5, 000 people - in 1948, 1952 and 1956.
The episode in December of 1952 alone, resulted in at least 3, 000 deaths more than expected for that time of year. Although the increase was present in every age group, the greatest increase was in the age group of 45 years and over. More than 80 % of these deaths occurred among individuals with known heart and respiratory disease. During each of these incidents, comparable conditions were present: limited air supplies as a result of low-lying temperature inversions and faint winds, and a continuing heavy output of air pollution from multiple sources. Also, in none of the incidents was technology sophisticated enough to properly monitor the air and diagnosis of the specific causes of the illness and deaths were based on limited evidence gathered after the disasters. Since the 1950 s, medical evidence chronicling the effects of air pollution on the human body has continued to mount The study found that 98 % of the four-county basin's population of 13 million is exposed to unhealthful air, with children especially vulnerable.
In addition, 1, 600 people die prematurely as a result of exposure to air pollution, according to the study. In 1991, as a follow up to the study, Hall looked at how air quality impacts minority communities. The study showed that minorities as a whole were shown to be exposed more often to poor air quality since they tend to live in more polluted air where housing is affordable. African-Americans and Hispanics generally breathe the worst air, partly because they tend to work in outdoor occupations. Children are the focus of a study funded by the California Air Resources Board that began in spring 1992 and will track 9, 600 fourth, eighth and twelfth grade students for up to 10 years to assess the potential health damage from continued exposure to ozone, fine particulates and atmospheric acidity. The lead scientist on the project is Dr.
John Peters of the University of Southern California. David Abbey, Ph. D. , of Loma Linda University, st...
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