Asthma is caused by several factors, which cause air pollution such as inhalable dust emissions; particulate matter. This essay provides a literature review of what has been done by scholars to relate asthma with dust emissions. It specifically deals with dust particles, which are captured remotely or through remote sensing.
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Asthma and Particulate Matter
D’Amato (2011) provides that PM is a serious element of air pollution that is associated with severe respiratory problems. It contains microscopic liquid droplets and solid particles of different sizes, origin, and composition. When those fine particles are inhaled, they get deep into the lower airways, and those with 2.5µms are retained in the human lung parenchyma. Thus, they cause exacerbation of allergic asthma, and chronic bronchitis. The world health organization reported that exposure to dust emissions result in increased respiratory symptoms, aggravated asthma, and 500,000 excess deaths annually across the world.
Change of climate affects the quality of air leading to the production of aero allergens such as pollen grain and mould spores, which are linked directly with causing respiratory diseases and asthmatic exacerbations in susceptible persons. Air pollution resulting from dust emissions induce airway inflammation resulting in allergen-induced respiratory episodes (Scapellato et al, 2009). Furthermore, air pollution overcomes the mucosal layer in the lungs allowing PM2.5 and ozone to change the allergenicity of aeroallergens. This enhances airway sensitization. Therefore, climatic factors such as meteorological events, rainfall patterns, and temperature changes trigger severe respiratory responses (NIEHS, 2010).
Strachan (2000) research found that environmental changes due to desertification or industrialization are linked with respiratory morbidity. The study concluded that experiences of adverse effects on asthma occur during summer season when inhalable dust particles are more in the air. In addition, NAS (2000) research found that individuals, who are susceptible to asthma, are likely to experience severe asthmatic exacerbations.
D’Amato (2011) research provides that increase of PM10 leads to greater use of asthma medication and increased hospital admissions related to asthmatic attacks. The UAE environment is characterized with increased air pollution due to increased industrialization. Therefore, the concentration of particulate matter in the atmosphere is high, thereby leading to high cases of respiratory diseases and asthmatic exacerbation on vulnerable persons.
Sandstorms increase the concentration of particulate matter, which is highly associated with causing asthma or aggravating asthmatic effects in people with asthma. A doctor in Abu Dhabi reported that high cases of respiratory diseases and asthma hospital admissions were caused by sand storms. In Dona Ana County, dust storms increased the levels of airborne particulate matter leading to high hospital emergency admissions. In Australia, dust storms were reported to have increased emergency admissions by 39% (Barnett, Fracer, & Munck, 2012).
The table below shows the relationship between dust and asthma in semi-arid Canada. The relationship shows that middle aged people have high prevalence of asthma due to dust than children and the ageing.
|Inhaled allergens||2-19 years||20-34 years||35-64 years||65+years||60%|
Research done by WAF revealed that one in five children in the UAE are suffering from asthma while 40% of the total population is prone to allergic Rhinitis due to mould spores, and dust particles in the air. The same agency predicted that the respiratory allergies will continue increasing at the rate of 70% with sandstorms. A report released by the UAE’s national meteorology and seismology (NCMS) showed that hazy weather conditions resulted in the increased suspension of dust and sand particles. As a result, doctors reported that 25% of the hospitalized patients with respiratory problems were directly linked with increased sandstorms (Suresh, 2012).
It is approximated that 13% of the UAE population and 25% of children in the UAE are suffering from asthma and the number is expected to rise by 70% in the next 25 years. This is attributed to an increased rise of annual sandstorms and continued constructions that create a huge amount of dust in the air. This leads to high levels PM10 (Suresh, 2012).
Barnett, G., Fracer, J.,& Munck, L. (2012). The effects of the 2009 dust storm on emergency admissions to a hospital in Brisbane, Australia. International Journal of Biometeorol, 56(4):719-726.
D’Amato, G. (2011). Effects of climatic changes and urban air pollution on the rising trends of respiratory allergy and asthma. Multidisciplinary Respiratory Medicine, 6, 28-37.
National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine (NAS). (2000). Clearing the Air: Asthma and Indoor Air Exposures. Washington, DC: National Academic Press.
NIEHS. (2010). A Human Health Perspective On Climate Change: A Report Outlining the Research Needs on the Human Health Effects of Climate Change. Web.
Scapellato, M. L., Canova, C., De Simone, A., Carrieri, M., Maestrelli, P., Simonato, L.,& Bartolucci, G. B., (2009). Personal PM10 exposure in asthmatic adults in Padova, Italy: seasonal variability and factors affecting individual concentrations of particulate matter, International Journal of Environmental Health, 212, 626–636.
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Strachan D.P. (2000). The role of environmental factors in asthma. British Medical Bulletin, 56 (4), 865–882
Suresh, R. (2012). Cases of respiratory problems up in UAE as sandstorms rage on Asthma sufferers battered by desert winds. Web.