Air Pollution: Responsibility of Technology and Medicine

air pollution___

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Gilbert Uriel Braga Fernandes, a member of IFMSA Brazil and of the national White Team. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Air pollution is responsible for 8.8 million deaths per year, mainly affecting populations in urban industrial areas. A serious public health problem stemming from the technological boom caused by industrial revolutions.

The solution to this situation is to change the energetic matrix together with a preventive, conscious and equal medical approach, capable of promoting quality of life in patients affected by pathologies and underlying diseases, focusing on risk groups, in addition to advancing research and treatment possibilities, in order to interrupt and minimize the damage and victims of pollution.

A WHO report found that 80% of the population living in monitored urban areas is exposed to a level of pollutants no higher than that considered acceptable by the World Health Organization. This situation reduces the quality of life; after all, primary and secondary pollutants are able to reduce lung function, precipitating severe respiratory pathologie in addition to having a cytotoxic and oxidizing effect, affecting the body in a systemic way, increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

In addition, pollutants affect risk groups with greater intensity, such as: Children – Lead can cause anemia, in addition to neuropathies, the elderly – with less metabolic and pulmonary reserve, with underlying diseases (such as asthma, COPD, emphysema) and socio-economically disadvantaged populations.

With this, we understand the reason that air pollution is responsible for approximately 8.8 million deaths per year, a global health problem. The solution to this situation needs to be based on short and long term measures, in addition to understanding the root of the problem, which is historic and economical.

After all, the industrial revolutions brought an unimaginable technological advance for the human race, improving the quality of life of a large part of the population, however the dominant sources of energy in this process, generate pollution and that is the reason why the greatest degree of contamination is located in the great industrial centers, mainly in the developing world, made up of countries with a predominantly fossil energy matrix.

So there is a long-term solution, which must be applied in an appropriate and gradual manner, stimulating the technical advance of energy sources that do not release gaseous pollutants. In addition, following the principle of changing the energy matrix, with the advancement of technology, it will be possible to adapt motor vehicles to sustainable energies, thus reducing the emission of toxic gases such as carbon monoxide.

These long-term measures depend on the technical-industrial sectors. Undeniably, it will help to assist in the future, however, pollution is affecting the health of millions in the present. At this point, medicine needs to act, firstly, through the concept of equity, well, if there are more affected populations, the focus should be, primarily, such communities acting through preventive medicine, mainly, of the groups of greater risk, of the awareness of indoor and outdoor pollution and combating pollutants and their sources. Raising awareness creates social awareness, which results in pressure groups for change, which will help to combat this reality.

Greater investments in research on immunotherapy and new forms of treatment for pulmonary and associated pathologies must be carried out together with new research on the damage of pollutants and a search for a better quality of life with those already affected, who suffer a lot from this situation.

These are some points of work that the health sectors in conjunction with states and international societies should seek to minimize and resolve the problems due to air pollution.

About the author

Gilbert Uriel Braga Fernandes is a member of IFMSA Brazil and of the national White Team.

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