Air Pollution Essay Research Paper name titleExecutive

Air Pollution Essay, Research Paper (name, title) Executive Summary An evaluation of the implications of environmental air pollution on human life and the macro, meso and micro level steps being taken to change

Air Pollution Essay, Research Paper

(name, title)

Executive Summary

An evaluation of the implications of environmental air pollution on

human life and the macro, meso and micro level steps being taken to change

the current status of air pollution is the purpose of this site. The method of

analysis used involved researching the actual hazards of air pollution on

humans, what solutions government agencies have proposed/implemented

(macro), what steps cities across the United States have taken (meso) and

how you (micro) can take a ?step toward? solving the air pollution problem.

The conclusion I have drawn from this research is that with the abundance of

evidence supporting the idea that air pollution has become a serious problem,

our society (individuals and businesses together) needs to adopt a holistic

pro-active stance against air pollution.

(picture and quote)


In order to maintain a concise, yet informative evaluation of my research, I

have categorized my findings in to four parts:

Part 1: The effect of air pollution on human health.

Part 2: Actions taken at the macro level.

Part 3: Actions taken at the meso level.

Part 4: Actions to take at the micro level.

I will discuss each part listed above and I will argue for a more holistic, pro-

active and more connected approach to tackling the problem of air pollution.

My final thoughts will probe you to think about the role you do play in our

society?s future and ask you to act on incorporating new thoughts.

Part 1: The effect of air pollution on human health.

Garrett?s quote above is from an eye opening book about the ?Human

Factor? and emerging infectious diseases. Although the book describes

exotic places like the Amazon jungle and Saharan Africa, an often overlooked

place for emerging illnesses is right where the majority of humans live … the

city. The city is the center for modern life as we know it. Yet, the city is also

becoming a center for death and illness.

Air pollution is a popular environmental problem that people rally

around. As a society, what are we actually doing to solve this problem and

help prevent an epidemic that is quietly arising out of the inner city?

The disease that is becoming a quiet killer in the inner city is asthma.

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that causes tightening of the chest and

difficulty breathing. Asthma has no single cause, but episodes can be brought

on by a variety of factors working alone or in combination. Environmental

epidemiologists are currently studying the most recent outbreaks of this

disease and why inner city children are suffering most from this illness.

According to the American Lung Association, asthma afflicts over 15

million Americans. The frightening aspect of this statistic is that the largest

group of people represented by this number is children. The United States

has an overall asthma rate of about 5 percent. However, the rate in New

York City is 8.4 percent and it can reach 25 percent among children in the

poorest urban neighborhoods.

(statistic, picture)

Air pollutants such as ozone, diesel fumes and exhaust particles seem

to be the main source of the problem. Hospital admissions for asthma often

rise to 20 – 30 percent during periods of severe air pollution. Clearly, it is

not illegal to be admitted to the hospital, but it seems only humane that air

pollution caused by human acts (i.e. driving cars) making people sick enough

to have to go to the hospital should be illegal.

Clearly then, there is a correlation between human acts of convenience

and causing human illness. The question we must ask now is:

If asthma is a disease of civilization, what aspects of modern life can we change to help our fellow humans?

Part 2: Actions taken at the macro level.

For the purpose of this site, the macro level is defined as an entity

larger than a business and more powerful than the city in which the business

presides. The discussion that follows then, is an example of an effort made

by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ?clean our air? and human

reactions to the EPA?s efforts.

In July of 1997, the EPA issued new clean air rules designed to cut

levels of smog and soot in the air. Ever since the rules were proposed back in

November 1996, the agency has come under attack. Critics, mainly from

industry, said the rules could impose serious burdens on American

consumers. Those critics claim that consumers will likely have to change

their lifestyles if the areas they live in are to meet the tougher new air quality

standards. At this point, I would like to propose a question:

How will steps in the right direction (EPA setting new standards that will benefit society) be effective unless lifestyle changes are made?

This is a perfect example of the Present Industrial Paradigm and the idea of


The ethnic group most affected by the asthma epidemic is African-

Americans. The inner cities of some of the largest metropolitan areas are

predominantly African-American. Proper health care and the ability to afford

such health care is a reason that children are dying of asthma. Ironically, at a

news conference at the National Press Club in June 1997, leaders

representing all minority groups said that they have told Clinton

Administration officials in meetings that the EPA?s proposals to further

control smog and fine particles will be so costly to implement, that billions of

dollars now headed for investment in small business in America?s inner cities

will be choked off.

What then, is the price of human health and why do the people most affected by air pollution want to put off efforts to help correct the problem?

Part 3: Actions taken at the meso level.

The meso level, as discussed in this site, refers to that entity which is

not as big as the EPA, but yet still holds more power than the individual. The

business, as Paul Hawken suggests, ?…has great power, perhaps more power

than any other institution.? The discussion that follows examines the steps

some meso entities have taken to set an example for the improvement of our


The city of St. Louis, Missouri, has been challenging the problem of air

pollution since 1995. The people of the metropolitan area of St. Louis started

a government sponsored program aimed at cutting traffic pollution in that

year. The program, called RideFinders, includes private car pools and

federally sponsored vans. To date, the program has a registered enrollment of

2,000 people. Most metropolitan cities have mass transit (i.e. city buses)

already in place, but RideFinders is taking it one step further. Those enrolled

are doing it not because they have no other alternative for transportation, but

of their own free will. Although no significant change in air pollution has

been detected in St. Louis yet, the program is a great example of people

thinking beyond their own convenience and about others around them.


Many businesses offer incentive programs for ?carpooling? to work.

Even though this could be construed as bribing people to ?do the right thing,?

sometimes (especially in cases where results are not immediately able to

be seen) people need incentive they can hold in their hands (i.e. monetary or

even gift certificates). With incentives, a sense of awareness that there is an

issue and even employee camaraderie can help to foster a positive program.

As a result, employees and businesses can take pride in the fact that

they are taking responsibility for the world around them. The step from doing

something (like car-pooling) for an incentive and then doing it for a sense of

pride can be paralleled to Carol Gilligan?s Pre-Conventional Stage moving to

the Conventional Stage in her description of Stages of Moral Development.

Part 4: Actions to be taken at the micro level.

For the purpose of this document, the micro level should be understood

as the individual. The individual includes every member of society. With the

Present Industrial Paradigm that is so evident in our society today, the

?individual? is a simple concept to comprehend. Our society, myself

included, is unconnected. For example, after four years without my own

automobile, when I see people waiting for the bus now that I have car, I am

glad I am not one of them. I embrace my freedom and independence and do

not want to have to be without it again. The question I ask myself is this:

Do I embrace my freedom (having a car now) because when I didn?t have a vehicle, all my friends had vehicles and I didn?t? Or, because I had to depend on others and that made me feel like lesser of a person?

It is an interesting question because I wonder what would have happened if

all my friends had to take the bus too. The oddity lies in the fact that when I

took the bus, I did not hate it. I was just fulfilling my basic needs; go to

work, go to school, go to the store, etc. I took the bus when I didn?t want to

have to depend on someone else for a ride home. It made me feel

independent. Now that I have my own vehicle though, I feel even more

independent – and I like it. Once again, this is the Reductionism mind-set. So,

how do we change our way of thinking? Here is my thought proposal:

We are all individuals, but what makes us all individuals is our

differences from every other individual in our society. I know I care about

others around me, but am I willing to give up my freedom/independence for

people I don?t even know? Probably not. However, I can start thinking

beyond myself. I can think long-term. If I know now (and I do) that children

are suffering from a disease caused by my need to feel independent and free,

it is uncomfortable for me because I hope to have children some day. I

certainly would not want my children to get sick from breathing! This is what

Laura Nash called, ?thinking long-term.? Some may ask:

What is the difference of one person? It is not going to help if I am the only one making an effort.

(picture of the kiddies)

I agree, the individual standing alone seems somewhat powerless –

especially when trying to tackle something as awesome as the contaminated

air we breathe. What the individual should try to remember is that society

would not be society without each member in it. Therefore, as individuals,

and human beings, it is imperative to start thinking of the self/individual as

part of a whole. This is the basis for the Holistic Paradigm. It is grasping and

practicing the concept that we are NOT alone. It is trying to understand that

our actions today will have an effect tomorrow.


Air pollution has become a serious health hazard to our society. People are having to be admitted to hospitals because of our dirty air. A major contribution to the dirty air is society?s love for independence and convenience. Would we be able to tell our children?s great-great grandchildren that their air is bad because we didn?t feel like waiting for the bus or sharing a ride? Fortunately, actions are being taken at the macro and meso levels as I discussed earlier. It is up to the individual at the micro level to remember that what makes them an individual is everyone else around them. If we want to preserve our independence, let?s care for our neighbors and their children?s children.

Final Thoughts:

1. Would you be willing to share a ride to work every day with a co- worker? Would you want an incentive?

2. Does the company you work for do any thing to help environmental issues? If not, how would they feel about you creating an awareness program?

3. Do you do anything to help environmental issues? Do you think you do enough?


Editors of Time. The Medical Advisor: The complete guide to alternative and conventional treatments. Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia. 1996. pp. 148, 149.

Garrett, Laurie. The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a world out of Balance. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York. 1994.


?Drive Time Car Pools a ?Growth Industry? Here? Schlinkmann, Mark. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. December 29, 1995. pp. 01B.

?Gasping for Life? Podolsky, Doug. U.S. News & World Report. January 13, 1997. pp. 61-65.

?New Air pollution rules smother inner cities? Chicago Independent Bulletin. Stamford, CT. June 19, 1997. pp. PG.

?Road Warrior Fog-Bound Over Clean Air? Horvath, Adam Z. Newsday. April 1994. pp. 6.

?U.S. says asthma cases up 75 percent since 1980? Cooper, Mike. Reuters. April 23, 1998.

?Why Ebonie Can?t Breath? Cowley, Geoffrey and Underwood, Anne. Newsweek. May 26, 1997. pp. 58-64.