The world has gone far from what it was a century ago. As the world grows old, things on it, around it, and under it have changed considerably; many were even replaced by new ones. As time goes on, man has invented and innovated much on four major human activity sectors: industry, energy, transportation and agriculture. (B Goldstein, 2002)Humans have been blinded by the dramatic changes and improvements on their ways of living brought about by technological advancements, industrialization and the transformation of almost everything in this whole new world For all of these, man has sacrificed his most precious wealth: his health. If we are to unveil the mask of this whole new world, we will see that what we actually have is a set of whole new pollutants- the gravest threat to human health.
In the two independent studies conducted in California relative to the health hazards of exposure to the soot in diesel emissions, researchers has released alarming result figures. In 2005 half a million of work and school absences, and at least 1,100 premature deaths were caused by breathing emissions from old diesel equipment. (Union of Concerned Scientists) So this is our prize for desiring to have this whole new world a highly industrialized one. The birth of high rise buildings, the construction of hospitals and transportation facilities, comes the birth of soot. Soot particles come directly from the tailpipe of engines and contribute to the unhealthy levels of particulate matter (PM) (UCS p.20).
The fine particulate matter “lodges like tiny razor blades deep in human lungs” according to Kevin Hamilton, who have led one of the two studies in California. Particulate pollution as Don Anair of the Union of Concerned scientists puts it is a “silent killer”. What the world gets from industrialization are heart diseases, asthma and cancer. The compensation of development is hundreds of different chemicals from the diesel soot: sulfates, ammonium, nitrates, elemental carbon, condensed organic compound, carcinogenic compounds, arsenic, selenium cadmium and zinc. If one thinks that he can get rid of this pollution by going out of the city, he is wrong. The study even found out 2that soot particles is present at the South Pole.
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Suggestions as to solving this problem include basically replacing the old equipment with new ones. The sad thing about this is that most of these equipment last for 20 to 30 years. That would mean humans still have to have themselves exposed to this pollution for two to three decades before they will be replaced with less-emitting machines. Taking this fact: 3for every additional 10 micrograms of soot in a cubic meter of air is equivalent to 4.5% increase in heart attacks, how many lives will still be sacrificed in three decades? Being also a cancer-causing agent, soot pollution is not supposed to be taken for granted. The California Air Resources Board reported that soot is responsible for 70% of the risk of cancer from airborne toxics. No one is safe and exempted from the deadly effects of diesel pollution, especially those who are living in soot-polluted areas like California. In fact, the 26% increase in mortality rate in such areas is attributed to soot-pollution.
One does not have to be an environmentalist in order to know what is actually going on with the air we all breathe. We do not have to be scientifically inclined in order to understand what these research studies figures are all about. We just have to have a little concern of the future, especially the lives of the children who have no chance of altering their future. Their only choice, if it is a choice, is to live in the world where their parents brought them up: a polluted world brought about by industrialization. I am not against development, nor am I against industrialization. I am against the carelessness of the proponents of this development who obviously have overlooked the long term health effects of these processes.
There is no escape to industrialization- the world, being governed by the laws of the material-driven humans, is inclined to be there. What has been done can no more be undone, and that is the sad truth. But there is a means of deterring the worst scenario: laws that will regulate the further use of soot-emitting engines or equipment.
The government has to genuinely work hard to ensuring the safety of their people, as they are expected to do so. The human health and the environment can no more wait. The best time to act is now. The chance of this growing old world of getting a better place to live in is declining. We can no more turn back time, what has been lost is lost forever. Let us not lose what we still have today.
- Wilson, Janet. “The Dire Health Effects of Pollution Reported.” The Los Angeles Times. December 05, 2006. Retrieved from http://www.topix.net/content/trb/3412963485317685650330925717330288178910 on February 20, 2007
- Environmental Health Perspectives. “Seeing Through the Soot”. Retrieved from http://www.ehp.niehs.nih.gov/members/2002/110-8/innovations.html on February 20, 2007
- Union of Concerned Scientists. “Clean Vehicles. Diesel Pollution Primer”. Retrieved from http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_vehicles/big_rig_cleanup/life-of-soot-diesel-pollution-emissions-and-health.html on February 20, 2007
- Goldstein, Bernardo (2002). “Pollution Health Article”. Gale Encyclopedia of Public Health. The Gale Group, Inc. Macmillan Reference USA. New York. Retrieved from http://www.healthline.com/galecontent/pollution on February 20,2007
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