Air quality, its health implications and adaptive response

By: Abeer Liaqat,Mishal Javed,Huma Ashraf,Aroosa Satti,Dr.Sahar Afzal

he emerging observations from a limited but growing body of literature offer an initial evidence base for evaluating the impacts of climate variations and change on air quality and related health. While much further study is required until the firm can draw quantitative conclusions, the limited available data indicates that certain anthropogenic and naturally occurring contaminants, including ozone, wildfire smoke, and some pollen, are likely to be intensified by climate change.
Additional adverse health effects should be predicted to the degree that such impacts arise when significant quantities of individuals are exposed, which is more likely to be the case for ozone and pollen than for smoke from wildfires. Individuals with current asthma, allergies and other respiratory conditions can be more susceptible to respiratory consequences.
More stringent pollution restrictions will be required to make strides in lowering ozone emissions below health-based levels in order to mitigate the potential air quality consequences of climate-related developments. The required adaptation steps are the same as those already in place: reductions in emissions of key ozone precursors, especially NOx.
Efforts to minimize pollution per mile from motor vehicles should be a high priority since the transport industry plays an increasingly influential role in urban emissions of NOx. With increased fleetwide fuel consumption, significant gains are feasible. As in the use of renewable, high-efficiency fuels such as biofuels, tightened pollution regulations can also play a part. In the longer term, breakthrough developments such as hybrid and fuel cell cars may have crucial advantages.
In the case of wildfires, it would be important for current monitoring and early warning systems to be preserved and improved in order to mitigate the effects of potentially escalated threats posed by climate change.
Air conditioning is an adaptive reaction to ozone, reducing indoor exposures relative to those outside, but exacerbating the issue of the energy sector’s pollution emissions. In the absence of a concurrent policy to reduce the subsequent pollution from power plants, caution is recommended when depending on air conditioning as a primary adaptive solution.
Ensuring full and equal access to available drugs will be essential in the case of aeroallergens, as will better outreach campaigns aimed at reducing allergens. It can also be useful to use advanced air handling and filtration systems to reduce the infiltration of outdoor pollen into indoor spaces.
Greater understanding of the effects of indoor moisture on molds and related respiratory disorders should include potential encouragement to drive housing construction away from areas vulnerable to flooding. Improved monitoring of pollen and mold levels is a pressing necessity.