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Asthma and Pollution in Phoenix, Arizona Paper


World Regions with accounted mild Asthma are southern Europe with 63%, Australia and New Zealand with 42%. Proportions of people with severe asthma, on the other hand, are 28% in Australia and New Zealand, 26% in Portland, 21% in United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, both 17% in Central and Northern Europe, and 15% in souther Europe. United States has many persons with asthma cases. A research estimated that 20 million had asthma in the country (http://phoenix.about.com/cs/health/a/asthma01.htm). Though asthma, over the past 30 years, is rarely a cause of death for Americans, it had caused them an estimate of $12.7 billion in 1998 alone. Phoenix, Arizona is one of the States in America known for its concentration of asthma patients in its several asthma treatment centers. Does this conclude that living in Arizona makes people more prone to Asthma? What is the current state of its surroundings that may affect the health condition of these people?

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Asthma is a continual lung disease. Persons living with it are suffering from coughing and shortness of breath caused by the inflammation of his airways. According to medical practitioners in the U.S. government, asthma is hereditary meaning someone that has asthma can have a close relative in the family that also has its unpleasant symptoms.  But new research suggest that being exposed to things that triggers asthma early in life may increase the chances of developing this disease(http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/Asthma/). Asthma is incurable, but it could be controlled so that few and infrequent symptoms can be experienced. Asthma episodes or attacks happened when symptoms get worse than usual. Asthma attack is characterized by the tightening of airways causing airways narrower so the person experience less air intake. In addition, airways cells make more mucus intended for trapping foreign materials that flows with the air inhaled. These two actions by the body make the person hard to breathe. Severe asthma attacks could cause death because of non-delivery of renewed oxygen to vital organs such as the brain and the heart, and non-exhaustion of waste gases from the body such as carbon dioxide. In case of severe asthma attacks, an immediate medical attention is necessary. Several prescribed medicines would make the affected body of the person in control. To avoid such attacks, persons with asthma were advised to consult with his doctor regularly. Asthma is said to be one of the leading causes of children missing in school. Also, occupational asthma are said to be the most prevaling work-related lung disease in developing countries (http://www.lycos.com/info/asthma–united-states.html).

Asthma in Phoenix

         Two of United States top 25 cities with the highest asthma prevalence were Tucson ranking first and Phoenix, not far ranking third. Both of them come from the state of Arizona. Someone would presume based on these given data that the latter is one of the worst places for asthmatics. But this would not be the case. Before someone judges, he should first consider all factors that could contribute to these facts. Before, the State of Arizona governing the city of Phoenix had started an ambition of making its territory as a health destination. The government had permitted to build several asthma treatment centers with attractive facilities causing many asthmatics to migrate for a better living in this place. Its climate characteristics which are dry, warm and sunny made Phoenix together with the other parts of Arizona more attractive to better-health seekers. Asthmatics belonging to the middle and upper class, upon knowing this government program, had then left their own place and inquired how to settle permanently in Arizona. Asthmatics community builds up in the area, mixed up with the local community, they get into inter-marriage, families expanded, and concentration of people with Asthma grew into Arizona’s major cities. Being a city with a high concentration of asthma people, Phoenix’s environment and health officials closely monitors the status of its pollution. They were being alarmed with the harmful effects that were brought by the continuous industrialization in their area.

Pollution’s threat to Better-Health Seekers:

              Phoenix, Arizona is a dessert place. Any land disturbances would therefore create dust pollution that would affect its residents. According to the Arizona Republic Online Print Edition, housing construction is a factor in the constant acquiring of pollution of the south Phoenix. Together with this problem is the toxic emmissions from cars and industrial plants. The residents are concerned with the diesel-powered “16-wheeler” trucks that usually drive through their residential areas. Residents are also worried if industry fires like the 2000 Central Garden Warehouse Fire and chemical spills such as the 1992 Quality Printed Circuits Fire would happen again thus endanger their health. Based on studies, diesel-fuel emmisions are more harmful to people than the regular gasoline emissions. These emissions increase the threat of worsening the condition of people with asthma, together with lung disease and heart attacks. Another report states the occurrence of a “Brown Cloud” over the city that were said to have been caused by the discharge carbon and nitrogen dioxide gas mostly from burning fossil fuels.

State Government, Residents and Industry Actions:

            Maricopa County Air Quality Department is created in1994 to keep track and enforce air-quality standards. It had organized a seminar at the South Mountain Community College drewing 20 residents as its audience. The residents reported their claims on the current condition of their surroundings’ air. Director of the Air Quality Department, Bob Kard, said everyone must contribute to the elimination of these hazardous air pollutants. He specified that South Phoenix’s air pollution is caused by mainly by automotive fumes, waste gases form industrial plant industries and land disturbances such as made by housing construction. Both the agency and the residents share the same sentiment of being worried for another industry accident. The county formed a sub-committee in south Phoenix, the Industry Challenge/Good Neighbor Partnership which aims to reduce the hazardous pollutants from industry emmissions by 20 percent for the next two years. The county also had promised they will put into action more safety measures to prevent such chemical spills at plants said to be handling delicate chemicals such as ammonia, chlorine and nitric acid. Even the above twenty companies operating in south Phoenix supports this drive by joining voluntarily into the partnership. The three sectors had all agreed to come up with cleaner air to our sorroundings as soon as possible, therefore making the city of Phoenix still a haven for better-health seekers such as those suffering from the chronic disease asthma.

Is Phoenix still be a safe place for asthmatics?

            The state government of Arizona started an initiative to protect its air. The drive was both supported by the residents and industry owners. They had all promised that in the near future, there would be an almost clean atmosphere hovering above the cities of Arizona. But environmentalist states that their actions do not suffice to meet their desired objective. One evidence environmentalist states are the persons who suggested using the plenty normal gasoline after one of the two pipelines supplying Phoenix broke last midyear of 2003 (http://www. tinyvital.com/BlogArchives/000252.html). The two pipelines supplies Phoenix own blend of oxygenated gas, which only few refineries produce. The persons, who had gave a suggestion, unfriendly in turn point out that if the government would still prevent the use of normal gasoline, then Phoenix would face a gas shortage. Remember, there is a drive against the use of diesel because it emits more hazard than the regular gasoline. Why do sacrifice the health of the residents so as the same residents would not suffer from the increase of gasoline prices because of its shortage? Whatever other material reasons, the government would still prioritize the health of its constituents. If it would give chance to the suggestion wether it is just for temporary resolution, then it would give an idea that the government would allow pollution just as its state would not suffer gas shortage setbacks. Healthy people would not be get affected easily but how come to those persons with asthma and other lung disease. Does the person suggest government to throw away his asthma treatment programs in exchange?


          It is nice that Phoenix had set an ambition to be a medical destination with its asthma treatment centers. The government must continue to support the drive for not only clean air but also for clean land and clean water.  If the private sector would support their actions, then Phoenix would be a permanent haven for all better-health seekers.


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Melendez, M. (2005, September 30). Some of the Valley’s worst air pollution hangs over south Phoenix.

Retrieved June 15, 2007 from http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/centralphoenix/articles/0930ext-air30Z4.html

Moore, J. (2003, August 19). Environmentalist Cause Phoenix Gas Shortage.

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