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Evaluation of The Health Impact of Air Pollution in America and China

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The respiratory system is a series of organs responsible for taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide (, 2016). Out of all the organs, the main organs used are the lungs. The lungs are the breathing center, regulating the air that goes in and out. Though the respiratory system controls breathing, sometimes what gets breathed in is out of one’s voluntary control. Air pollution is one of those things humans cannot control. Air pollution is defined as air that contains fatal substances bringing toxins into the respiratory system (Clifton et al., 2016). The correlations of air pollution in the United States and China is to be discussed. Though stemming from two very different socio-economical and cultural backgrounds, the reason for choosing to compare the United States and China specifically, is that according to (2016), China is the most populated country in the world where the United States is the third most populated country in the world. This makes China the most populated undeveloped country and the United States the most populated developed country, since India (another undeveloped country) is the second most populated country. Comparing the most populated countries contrasts the different health concerns presented in areas where most air is being breathed. This paper will discuss what the respiratory system is, the different respiratory damages air pollution has on the population of the United States and China, how the two countries relate as well as what the countries are planning on controlling the air pollution.

Humans need the respiratory system in order to sustain itself (, 2016). The main function of the respiratory system is to provide the body with essential oxygen while disposing of carbon dioxide. Humans breathe in oxygen [O2] though the nose or mouth to make ATP. ATP are energy molecule that are metabolized though out the body. Meanwhile, humans breathe out carbon dioxide [Co2] to get rid of metabolic waste. Breathing allows air to move in and out of the lungs. Breathing in O2 is a process called inhalation. This allows the rib cage to move up and out allowing the chest cavity to increase in size, as pressure within the lungs decrease. The diaphragm will contract as well, allowing the lungs to expand and air to move in. Then exhalation takes place, which is also known as breathing out of Co2. Exhalation is when the rib cage moves down and inward allowing the intercostal muscle to relax. The diaphragm relaxes and moves upward as the chest cavity decreases in size. The pressure within the lungs will decrease and the lings recoil and air will move out.

Through the research found, the most reoccurring issues found in China was the rise of asthma verses the Unite States, where the air from combustion emissions affect human health quality. Asthma affects 300 million people across the world and is responsible for one of 250 deaths in the year 2004 (Cai et al. 2014). It is an obstructive pulmonary disease that can be life threatening. Asthma attacks can occur as a result. Asthma attacks are when the smooth muscles of the bronchi contract and mucus starts to produce in the bronchi tubes. When this happens, the bronchi swells, which interferes with the passage of air. Cai et al. (2014) also mentions the fact that asthma has historically been found more so in well developed countries than those that are undeveloped. Yet in recent years, there has been an increasing trend of asthma in undeveloped countries more specifically in cities in China such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. A study conducted by Dang et al. (2015) released data proving that air pollution mainly comes from the industry and traffic related fumes that get spread across China. Dang et al. (2015) did a longitudinal study to examine the affects of air pollution by comparing the effects on children verses adults. What they found by the end of the study was that the majority of the 30 million people affected by asthma(Cai et al. 2014) were children under the age of ten. The findings of this study proves the idea of how air pollution has only been a recent rising occurrence in China as for when they tested adults who shown less sever signs of asthma. In contrast, studies conducted on the United States in relations to air pollution revealed that early deaths in the United States are linked to combustion emissions. Combustion emissions are defined as a gas of burning fuels that can affect air quality resulting to breathing in damaging chemicals (Caiazzo et al. 2013). Caiazzo’s et al. (2013) study was broken into two parts. The first one revealed that 200,000 early deaths occurred in the United States each year due to these emissions. The second study went deeper into finding what type exposer was the worse and where the emissions stemmed from (Dedoussi and Barrett 2014). Dedoussi and Barrett (2014) tested all sensitivities from workers in industry, roads and rail transportation. Along with cardiovascular diseases, they detected two main respiratory diseases found in these types of workers: asthma and lung cancer. They found these were worse in the western part of the United States yet have no specific reasons why.

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Though the two countries have different external reasons for the causes of respiratory diseases, the two do come together when it comes to global air pollution. Air transports from continent to continent. This is called intercontinental transport of air. With that being said, all the bad air from China go to the United States and vise versa (Akimoto 2003). Akimoto (2003) discussed the impact of the mass 1990’s nitrous oxide [NO2] emissions that surpassed through North America and continue to exceed airs from then until today. NO2 is a natural gas presented on Earth. Yet with excess activities humans add such as fossil fuels, agriculture, coal production and industrial processes, there is an increased amount of NO2 released into the air. Akimoto found respiratory effects relating to this excessive release of NO2. He found that too much exposure to NO2 would lead to airway inflammation even in healthy people. This increases the risk of asthma. In his conclusion he mentions that people who live near roadways have a higher chance of developing asthma or worsening their asthma than those who did not. From the 1990’s until today, the amount of NO2 has not decreased but has been affecting humans even more than before.

Both the United States and China are aware of the problems with air pollution and are working on ways to prevent harm to human health. In the last ten years, air pollution control due to public concerns about health effects has been a greater priority among the Chinese government (McMullen-Laird et al. 2015). Feng and Liao (2016) conducted a study to simply provide an overview understanding for readers of plans and policies for air pollution prevention and control in China. This study goes over the China Constitution where Article 26 states how the constitution will provide that the state protects and improves the environment as well as pollution along with other public hazards. The point of this study is to allow the public to understand that China is slowly but progressively working on their air pollution problems. In the United States, two acts have been created: the Pollution Prevention Act [PPA] and the Clean Air Act [CAA]. The PPA was a decision Congress made to encourage industries to change their sources to more cost-effective production, operation and use of raw materials in order to reduce pollution (Gad 2014). The CAA was a federal legislation to regulate air emissions as well as regulate air pollutants (Kapp 2014). In conclusion, both countries are understanding of the hazards of air pollution and are working on ways to go about making laws to further help the spread of it. Progress is slowly but surly happening.

The results from the research found on China and the United States when it comes the respiratory system were rather surprising. Before looking into anything there was an assumption that China was going to be extremely problematic when it comes to the damages on the respiratory system due to knowing the fact that it is the most populated country (meaning more people breathing air) and that it is undeveloped (assuming people had less resources to maintain a healthy filled air environment). Yet it turns out that the United States is the actual country with problems that have historically existed when it comes to the respiratory system while China is just getting on the rise of these asthma problems. Something else that was interested while going though the different researches was the main trend of the rise of asthma. While the United States have always been aware of asthma being a problem, China’s asthma concerns are recently upcoming, hence the research done by Dang et al. (2015). Since intercontinental transport of air does exist, both countries in a way do have to work together to maintain good air in order for clean air to be shared across nations. Luckily, both countries have created laws to do so.

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Evaluation of The Health Impact of Air Pollution in America and China. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from
“Evaluation of The Health Impact of Air Pollution in America and China.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
Evaluation of The Health Impact of Air Pollution in America and China. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 Feb. 2023].
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