Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Air We Breathe


ut oh the AFP changed it to pay per view!  Here's all I can find for free on the web from that article http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20082513

Almost 160 million persons live in areas of the United States that exceed federal health-based air pollution standards. The two air pollutants that most commonly exceed standards are ozone and particulate matter. Ozone and particulate matter can harm anyone if levels are sufficiently elevated, but health risk from air pollution is greatest among vulnerable populations. Both ozone and particulate matter can cause pulmonary inflammation, decreased lung function, and exacerbation of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Particulate matter is also strongly associated with increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Children, older adults, and other vulnerable persons may be sensitive to lower levels of air pollution. Persons who are aware of local air pollution levels, reported daily by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the Air Quality Index, can take action to reduce exposure. These actions include simple measures to limit exertion and time spent outdoors when air pollution levels are highest, and to reduce the infiltration of outdoor air pollutants into indoor spaces.

So let me get this straight.  We have an identifiable risk factor strongly associated with cardiovascular mortality,  the leading cause of death in this land,  the air we breathe!  More than half of the population breathes air that raises their risk of dying of heart disease?  If there were a pill that somehow filtered the air we breathe,  you bet there'd be ads all over the US for that pill.  

Medicine used to be intimately tied to public health measures like sanitation, nutrition and pollution.  As a matter of fact the largest improvements in longevity and contagious disease control came not from vaccines or antibiotics but from sanitation measures.  But now the best medicine has to offer is "avoid breathing the air outside".  


Improvements in air quality have led to measurable improvements in life expectancy in the United States.

If that's true,  then why isn't getting heart attack causing particulate mater out of the air a priority of the medical establishment?  Here's an issue related to the number 1 cause of death in this country that 160 million people can relate to and the health care system doesn't lead the way partnering with those 160 million people in eliminating this preventable cause of death?

"But it's expensive eliminating pollution!"  

Yeah,  you know what else is expensive?  Heart attacks

Here's the local air pollution monitoring folks :  http://www.yakimacleanair.org/index.html 

Looks like we're a Yellow today,  guess we should all breathe shallow when outside....


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