In the forties of the 20th century, there were five times less patients with bronchial asthma in the world than now. What has changed in the world? The ecology. Widespread industrialization, technological progress, millions of cars and hundreds of factories today are polluting our atmosphere and our lungs. The average citizen of the metropolis inhales 48 kilograms of harmful substances per year. The air contaminated with poisonous gases and suspended particles, is a strong precipitating factor for the development of asthma. People with genetic predisposition to asthma, have a very sensitive respiratory system that can respond to the slightest irritants. It is a very serious irritant to the citizens of industrial cities nowadays.
Why do we get so sick often?
Asthma (what is it?) is an environmentally dependent disease. If the city has a lot of children with asthma, it is a sign that the environmental situation is bad there. The worse the ecology is, the higher the possibility of asthma developmenr in the early age. The substances contained in the air of a big city, is not only irritating, but also poisining the delicate mucous membrane of the bronchi of asthmatics and create conditions for the development of pathogenic bacteria. They affect the cells responsible for the immune system and reduce the body’s defense function. Therefore, urban children often have acute respiratory viral infection. The number of people who got ill with chronic bronchitis increased by 2.5 times from 2002 to 2009. These figures have grown in parallel with the sharp rise in the number of personal cars. Automobile gases and industrial pollutants enhance sensitization of the respiratory system, making them vulnerable to all kinds of allergens. That’s why children are more susceptible to industrial cities seasonal polynosis. Some of these toxic substances are potent allergens in their nature.
What are we poisoning with?
Let’s understand what is smog that hangs over our heads, and why it is so dangerous for asthmatics.
Industrial smog. It is the most frequent companion of large industrial cities. It is the result of incomplete combustion of liquid and solid fuels. Usually smog consists of sulfur dioxide with the solid particles of allergens.
Prolonged inhalation of even small doses of sulfur dioxide can cause atrophic rhinitis, tooth loss, often exacerbated by toxic bronchitis with fits of suffocation. It may also damage the liver, blood, pulmonary fibrosis development.
The second type of urban smog is photochemical. It occurs in the places of place of accumulated machines concentration. About 60% of harmful emissions in urban areas is is vehicle emissions. Exposed to sunlight, they start up photochemical reactions. Photochemical smog consists of nitrogen dioxide and ozone.
Often there are both types of smog in the cities. Both are very dangerous to the respiratory system. Nitrogen dioxide irritates the respiratory tract and inhibits the aerobic oxidation in the lung tissue, which leads to the development of toxic pulmonary edema. Ozone causes coughing, swelling and sore throat, feeling of tightness in the chest. Over time it may reduce lung function, increase susceptibility to infections of the respiratory system, exacerbation of asthma.
Carbon monoxide. It also produced by automobole maschines. It contains ketones and aldehydes which irritate the respiratory system and provoke asthma and other chronic diseases. Carbon monoxide reduces the oxygen supply to the tissues and heart, and we have a hard breathing and can’t bear physical exercises.
Industrial chemical allergens. This is something that plants and factories emit in the city’s air. This can be formaldehyde, chromium, aromatic hydrocarbons, nickel, and so on. These substances also have a very aggressive effect on sensitive bronchial asthma. Hydrocarbons, for example, possess narcotic effect and cause and dizziness and headache even in small concentrations. Benzopyrene is dangerous to humans even in minimal quantity, as may accumulate in the human body and can cause mutations and cancer.
Harmful substances are divided into 4 classes according to the degree of danger to human health:
- extremely dangerous substances;
- highly dangerous substances;
- moderately dangerous substances;
- low-dangerous substances.
For example, vanadium pentoxide, relating to first class of danger, can be formed by the combustion of fuel oil, and we may inhale it during an evening walk with the dog. It causes irritation of the respiratory tract, pulmonary hemorrhage, cardiac and kidney activity. Or hexavalent chromium. Also the first class. It causes shortness of breath, cough, sore throat. Prolonged inhalation of even very small doses cause bronchitis, asthma, diffuse pulmonary fibrosis.
‘Check and count’ principle
Ecologists has a term “maximum permissible concentration” (MPC). This is the amount of pollutant in the air, which does not provide harmful effects on human health, its activity and the health of children. Each hazardous substance has a specific figure. The concentration, which exceeds the stated figure is considered dangerous for our health. From time to time (as well as by the complaints of citizens) a special service of environmental monitoring should be carried out. This air bioassay of your area will be useful to see the results. The enterprises mat be punished by a substanltia fine or even a its closure if they violate of these rules.
Breath of our city
The city center is a dangerous place. The most frequent diseases of people living in a big cities: allergies and asthma, heart disease, liver and gallbladder. Industrial enterprises emit toxic nitrogen compounds, magnesium and silicon daily. And only half of these companies have a purification system. Transport adds smog containing cadmium and zinc. So there are very few regions with a good ecological system.
On average, every citizen inhales 50 kg of harmful substances per year. This is a result of thermal power plants, waste incineration plants. The main chemical agents are phenol, nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, benzopyrene. Asthmatics are recommended to leave the big cities in the days of summer, as the inhalation of increased number of pollutants can cause severe attacks. Live in a small cities or find a more environmentally friendly place, it’s for you to decide. Life situations are different. But we advice: use any opportunity to leave the city to get some really fresh air.
We choke ourselves
Sometimes we create a contaminated atmosphere around ourselves and our family. You do not even have to be behind the wheel of a car. All you need is to take a cigarette. Today, doctors consider smoking as one of the main factors influencing the emergence and development of asthma. The tobacco smoke contains 4,500 substances, 30 of which are highly toxic and irritate the bronchial tubes. This are carbon monoxide, nitrogen monoxide, polycyclic hydrocarbons, ammonia, acrolein. Cigarette smoking reduces the effectiveness of the body’s systems. Especially it undermines the immune protection in the respiratory tract. Stagnation of mucus, excessive secretion – all these factors create a favorable environment for the development of infections and inflammations. Besides, all this stuff accumulates in the lower parts of the bronchi and eventually leads to reflex bronchospasm. And do not forget that while smoking you also poison other adults and children. Scientists proved that passive smokers absorb the smoky air from the room as if they smoke themselves. Thanks to a new law banning smoking in public places, the situation with passive smoking for citizens has markedly improved. But still keep your children away from smoking crowds at bus stops and in parks. Give them a chance to breathe freely!