Throughout Los Angeles, pollution has been a major concern. Historical data show that during the Pre- Columbian Era (the beginning of the 19th century), smog blanketed the city and caused many diseases. Industrialization and large-scale farming also increased air pollution in Los Angeles. Scientific studies have linked air pollution and various cancers, prompting the Environmental Protection Agency to establish health guidelines. The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, is a government division of the U.S. Government.
Historical data from the California Department of Public Health indicate that Los Angeles has had higher than normal rates of both asthma and respiratory infections over the past two decades. The number of reported cases of both has more than doubled during the decade, and the number of deaths attributed to both respiratory infections and air pollution. Economic and social factors have been linked to this increase in public health concerns.
This has prompted an investigation into the Los Angeles environmental justice issue, particularly as it pertains to public health and pollution. As expected, the investigation found a significant connection between socioeconomic status and both poor air quality and health outcomes. In Los Angeles, these two factors often work together. African American and Hispanic people living in disadvantaged communities are exposed to higher levels of both air pollution and poor health outcomes. These groups also face other forms of racial discrimination in areas such as housing, employment, and access to healthy food.
How Pollution Create Shortage Of Fresh Air
There are a number of pollutants that affect the environment. Ozone gases, which cause smog, are produced by vehicles, industrial plants, and power plants. These gasses are emitted into the atmosphere, where they act as a catalyst for rain to fill the streets with unhealthy fumes. Fine dust from woodworking and construction can also pose a health risk by creating breathing difficulties for people who are more sensitive to dust. It’s no surprise then that Los Angeles residents are among those who are more likely to be diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or lung cancer, two diseases with higher incidence rates in those living in disadvantaged communities.
Another major environmental concern in Los Angeles is the proliferation of greenhouse gas emissions caused by vehicle emissions and agricultural and wood burning stoves. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Los Angeles is one of the most polluted areas in the country, with more than three million pounds of toxic emissions from these sources being released into the air every year. Of particular concern to the environment and public health professionals, are the more than two hundred different sources of air pollution in the city.
Effects Of Pollution
Of the many pollutants that can be inhaled, one of the worst is air particulate matter. These harmful gases can cause coughing, wheezing, and other breathing complications. According to the EPA, Los Angeles has one of the highest concentrations of particulate matter in the nation. Of even greater concern is that nearly thirty percent of the toxic emissions in the area are from sources that are invisible to the naked eye, such as smog and landfill emissions.
While the concentration of air pollution in Los Angeles may be higher than normal, there is hope for the environment. Through a program initiated by the Los Angeles City Council, the use of air pollution machines in the city is being restricted. This is expected to have a profound effect on the increase in air pollution over the next decade, according to the Los Angeles Times. Even though this effort has only been in place for the past year or so, it is already having a significant impact. According to the newspaper, the number of incidents of dust particles floating in the air has decreased by almost fifty percent since the beginning of the program. Furthermore, according to the same study, the number of incidents of asthma-like symptoms has also been greatly reduced.
In The End
Although some environmentalists are concerned about the drastic measures being taken against pollution in Los Angeles, those who live and work in the area can take comfort in the fact that things are being taken seriously. As the realization sinks in that there is a strong correlation between air quality and human health, the more tangible steps that can be taken to preserve good health and to improve air quality will likely be taken. If you want to take part in that progress, the best thing you can do is make sure to watch your personal computer and watch the television while you are away from your PC. While you might not be saving the planet or your life, you are doing your part to help reduce air pollution in Los Angeles.