Respiratory issues can be caused by many things. Sometimes they are due to bacteria or a virus. Other times, they are genetic. However, increasingly, many respiratory issues that are quickly becoming a concern are due to environmental situations. These issues have to become a focus of public health agencies who are looking for ways to make communities healthier.
Environmental issues can lead to a range of respiratory issues. The environment can contain harmful chemicals or other agents that lead to issues when they are inhaled. These chemicals can be released into the air through gas, vapor, mist, or even just be particles that are floating around. The types of things in the air that can cause issues include asbestos, cotton dust, and animal dander.
When a person breathes in something harmful, it can have varying results. Something like animal dander may only cause allergy-related respiratory issues, while something like asbestos leads to very harmful respiratory diseases. The second group is obviously more harmful and usually includes things that are known to be toxic.
People can be at risk anywhere – at home, school, work, or anywhere in an infected community. This is why environmental respiratory diseases are community health concerns, like those mentioned by the University of Cincinatti. Community health agencies often work to help lower risks and remove situations. However, this isn’t always possible because risks exist in many different places.
People who work with harmful substances are at risk. The government has put many regulations in place to try to reduce risks, but these individuals will still have some exposure and could end up suffering from a related respiratory disease many years after exposure. Some industries where such risks are high include construction, aerospace workers, miners, welders, and military workers.
Even those who don’t work with harmful substances may be at risk. Many times this is something that is unknown until people start getting sick and it is obvious there is a major issue. An office ventilation system that has become contaminated could pose such a risk.
Whole communities could be at risk every time they take a breath if an area has been contaminated in some way. For example, if a building is torn down that was filled with asbestos and proper procedures weren’t followed, the air in the area will be contaminated.
Finally, a home can be a risk. There are certain toxins that can leach into a home or otherwise be introduced that pose serious respiratory risks. This includes carbon monoxide and radon. These things are impossible to detect without special equipment, but detectors are widely available that can be placed in homes.
Environmental causes of respiratory issues can often be detected easily and steps can then be taken to handle them. However, some cases are unavoidable and simply part of working in a specific field. The government and community health groups, however, have taken many steps to protect workers and the public against contaminants. Your best bet to protecting yourself and your loved ones, though, is being aware of the potential dangers that may lurk in the air your breathe.