The effects of air pollution on human health and the environment have very real financial costs.
Air pollution became of personal interest to me as an educator teaching public health nursing (in Cleveland, Ohio and Wuhan, China). The only information my students receive on environmental health is during the two-hour class I have on the topic. Because air pollution can have a direct impact on the health of people across their lifespan, it is essential that nursing students are aware not only of the clinical implications but of the causes and effects of air pollution—local and global—and what they can do to advocate for clean air.
I have particularly noted the evolution over about 10 years of air pollution concerns around a shopping center built on a remediated landfill in Ohio. I show my students photos and news articles about it in my class on nursing, health, and the environment and we discuss the environmental, political, legal, health, and economic impacts of the construction of the shopping center.
We also look at the World Health Organization website on air quality and discuss the impacts on air quality in other countries from the industrial level to the effects of the increasing numbers of vehicles to indoor burning of solid fuels.
In the U.S. and world, government officials should be aware of people's right to breathe for two key reasons. Firstly: air pollution has the potential to affect a person's health, but the impacts of air pollution cannot be controlled by the individual or even, at times, the local community. Secondly: the effects of air pollution on human health and the environment have very real financial costs.
I will take the information I learn about the importance of clean air and the effects of air pollution on health and the environment back to my health profession colleagues and students and I am proud to be an advocate for clean air.