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03/14/2022

Comments

Belen Delgado Mio

I think that all of these articles showed important information about the different ways in which air pollution negatively affects us as a society. The articles pointed out some of the well-known effects air pollution has on human health, like asthma, bronchitis, stroke, cardiovascular issues, etc. However, Zhang et al. also discussed how air pollution could negatively affect a person's cognition. It was really surprising to find out that the cognitive effects were very serious for the elderly. Especially since cognitive decline in older people can increase their likelihood of developing dementia. It was also interesting that the paper connected cognitive declines in the elderly to potential financial losses. Originally, I didn't think about how this decline could affect their retirement plans, health insurance, or family members who have to take care of them. 
In class we often talk about putting a tax on pollution to ensure that companies' internalize the negative externalities associated with their pollution. It was interesting to see just how costly these negative externalities are in real life. For example, Jalaludin et al. stated that the total indirect and direct costs of asthma in Australia in 1991 were around $600 million and $700 million. This is very concerning because this estimate only refers to the costs associated with asthma. The true costs of all of the negative health outcomes associated with air pollution are a much higher number.

Jackson Hotchkiss

I always try to read over a few responses that my classmates have left about the reading before writing my response. With this said, I would like to highlight something Josh said about the Katharine Hayhoe lecture. As noted by Josh, one of the questions asked during the lecture Q&A was somewhere along the line of "How can we get individuals to take action about the environment when the actions we do now won't affect many of us". Katharine Hayhoe answered by saying that you must make it relatable to them, therefore making it more persona and easier to understand during the present time. This alone is the most effective way for anyone person to push change. I thought this was very encouraging.

As for the papers, the largest thing I would like to touch on is the fact that this is a global problem. Through the papers, we see that In many places individuals are being negatively affected by the harms that come along with air pollution. Specifically, those who are already suffering from respiratory issues develop worse or new symptoms.

Lastly in the reading "Air pollution-related illness: Effects of particles" I was shocked to hear our failure to regulate ultrafine particles emitted by cars. In my opinion, if the automobile sector is one of the largest contributors to air pollution and the negative effects that come with it, then we should not let such carless harms go unregulated. Overall the harms of air pollution are something that affects all of us, but it is going to take all of us to change that.

Carter Dummett

I was the most surprised by the findings in the article discussing air pollutions affect on cognitive ability in China. I expected there to be a visible decrease as people got older and exposed to more pollution. What really got me was the difference between math and language and men and women. The decline in language skills for men with regular expososure is what I expected for anyone with regular exposure regardless of the subject. It is weird to think that an organ in our body is so complex that only certain parts of it (based on the data) are affected negatively by air pollution. My biggest questions from this whole reading would be why does math seem to be unaffected and why are women so much less affected? I would like to see this done on a larger scale if possible and see what it results would be.

Andrew Arnold

The most frustrated I had been after one of our classes was when you told us about the health effects surrounding mountain top removal in West Virginia. It really had an effect on me that the people in charge knew what they were doing, as well as the politicians, and they were doing nothing. I was really taken aback that people could really just not care about other people so much. Now reading these articles I have even more examples of how wide spread these types of instances are. For example, in Australia these kids are growing up through no fault of their own with an increased chance of asthma and wheezing. I really don't understand why people won't do more when the science identifies a problem like this. Even simply on the economic side the paper said it cost Australia 600-700 million dollars. Air pollution is the kind of problem too where it is caused by very few but affects very many. I don't get why the policies don't reflect the negative externalities of firms who cause this air pollution. Taxation seems not only necessary but needed very soon. When the health effects are proven and getting worse, policy has to reflect what is best for the people not profit seeking firms.

Max Thomas

Each of the three assigned articles points toward adverse health effects associated with exposure to atmospheric pollutants. These effects, ranging from asthma to cognitive decline, are concerning – not only from a public health perspective but from an economic perspective as well. At a fundamental level, illness inhibits productivity, negatively affecting both the sick and the overall economy.

Despite the impacts of air pollutants, currently, few are regulated at socially optimal levels. In theory, addressing issues of environmental pollutants could be framed effectively through a public health perspective – making such issues relatable on a human level. If critics of pollution abatement can see tangible benefits, their stance might change.

I worry, though, that relating environmental issues to adverse health effects may incite fear, leading individuals to avoid the issue rather than combat it. Because no one wants their kid to suffer from asthma, or their grandma to lose cognitive functioning, it would be natural to ignore the source of that danger. Since uncertainty defines science, those fearful of scary medical findings can easily dismiss them. In doing so, I worry that they will also dismiss the root environmental concerns.

Clara Ortwein

I've always heard about air pollution in correlation with asthma, but I've never really taken the time to understand what different pollutants do and where they come from. I was interested in the article about particulate matter specifically because of the lack of regulation of ultrafine particles, which come from fossil fuels. These seemed to have a lengthy list of potential health effects, and it seems irresponsible to have no regulation on many of them. It was interesting to read more about the science behind what they do in the lungs, and this made me feel even more sure that regulations are necessary, particularly when there are many at risk groups who are more affected than others. Quality air seems like a natural right, it seems dystopian to think of approaching a time when it is no longer a given. This makes me think of what we discussed in class about how restricting one kind of air pollutant leads to others being restricted. To tie in with the other papers, PM is not the only dangerous pollutant, so incorporating the extra benefit that derives from one restriction would be efficient in determining the whether or not to impose them.

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