Healthcare progress is directly proportional to the quality of the environment that an individual is exposed to. Climate change and related factors that cause it have had numerous impacts on the American population’s health. Climate change-related matters such as air pollution, affect people at all levels (local, state, and national levels). This paper will discuss how air pollution in the United States, specifically caused by fossil fuel combustion, is a major cause of children’s neurodevelopment health issues. It will also discuss possible solutions to the problem, such as better policies to manage pollution.
Policy Health Issue
There is growing evidence on the impact of combustion-related pollution on neurodevelopment in the American population. The health problem is caused when there is a disruption in the development of the central nervous system. It leads to impaired motor function and could also lead to the development of brain dysfunction. Children are the most affected population b the healthcare issue. Neural development issues lead to disorders such as learning disabilities, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and autism, among others (Eyre et al., 2019). The impact of the issue is felt at the state, local and national levels as all jurisdictions are affected by pollution issues. According to research carried out by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2011, 1 out of 7 children in the United States develop development issues, including ADHD and autism disorders (Shute, 2011). Such has become a health emergency issue as it affects the well-being and quality of life of children.
Environmental exposures before birth and early life of a child change the physiology of the body the structure and metabolism, which might lead to healthcare issues in the early or later
life of individuals. The rapid growth in infants and continuous cell differentiation makes the population highly at risk from the effects of air pollution caused by fossil fuels’ combustion. The impact of air pollution is a huge issue as it leads to an annual cost of $74.3 billion, to deal with environmentally caused neurodevelopment disorder (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). As identified by Project TENDR (Targeting Environmental Neurodevelopmental Risks), the causing air pollutants include ultrafine particulate matter, nitrogen dioxide, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Such air pollution is linked to low birth weight and preterm births, which are known risk factors for children’s neural developmental issues. Neurotoxic effects of air pollutants have been tested in laboratories to show the impact that it might have on children (Anderson & Bows, 2011). Scientists using mice showed that exposure to diesel exhaust caused fetal brain inflammation, increased the mice’s anxiety, and decreased their activity ad microglial activation as adult males.
The United States populations, especially the children, have many health issues associated with climate change issues and environmental issues such as pollution. There is currently no substantial research that shows adverse effects. Still, scientists have proved through their studies that air pollution is a major cause of neurodevelopmental issues in children born in the country. Those born within urban areas are at higher risks due to increased pollution from fossil fuel burning. It is the government and healthcare agencies’ role to ensure that such exposures are kept at their minimum. This paper offers recommendations to environmental bodies and government policymakers on ways that air pollution can be controlled if not eliminated within the country. It will enhance children’s lives and reduce the growing trend of neuro-development related health issues such as autism and ADHD.
The management of air pollution in the country requires the joint efforts of the state and federal government. The Clean Air Act of 1970, an initiative of the federal and state governments in the USA, has had a great impact on reducing the amount of pollutants in the air. However, the country is still exposed to air pollution above-recommended levels (Hand et al., 2020). Maintaining and protecting the health of children and other vulnerable populations is of utmost importance to the government. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the USA should, therefore, carry out more research on the impact of air pollution on neurodevelopment in children. They should consider the same when setting up standards for combustion-related pollutants and when assessing the health effects and costs of air pollution.
The federal fuel efficiency standards should be strengthened to further reduce greenhouse emissions in the country. Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards and Light-Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emission Standards (2017-2025) set by EPA are expected to reduce fuel consumption and improve fuel economy. It will lead to less combustion and fewer air pollutants (Hand et al., 2020). However, the above standards are under threat despite the numerous health and environmental benefits. The standards, therefore, should not be rolled back or delayed. To reduce the impacts of air pollution on health, state, and local actions should be advanced. Clean energy policies should be promoted and reduce the overreliance on fossil fuels as sources of energy. The government should also target major causes of air pollutants and eliminate the same or make sure they follow set regulations. In doing so, pregnant mothers and young children will not be exposed to pollution and therefore reduce the chances of developing neuro-related disorders at an early age.
The government also needs to increase funding for research on the impacts of air pollution on its population’s health. It should identify the health needs of the population, gather more information on air pollution effects on neurodevelopment, and draft a policy that safeguards children’s health within the country. The government should involve all stakeholders such as scientists, healthcare providers, and the general public in the healthcare policy formation.
Impact on Healthcare Delivery
Implementing environmental policies that control climate change and improve the health of the population greatly impacts the healthcare delivery system. Healthcare delivery systems are comprised of institutions, healthcare professionals, and other agencies that promote the health of the population. Cleaner air means fewer health pollution-related issues and reduced the cost of healthcare in the country. The current healthcare system faces problems of quality care and cost. A healthier population means less is spent in the delivery of healthcare within the country. More research on the impact of air pollution on children’s neurodevelopment will increase healthcare professionals’ knowledge of the issue. With such knowledge, healthcare providers can deal better with the problem (Sklar, 2016).
Climate change-related issues and environmental conditions affect the health of the population. Air pollution in the United States causes health issues in children, before birth, and even after birth. The most renowned health problems related to air pollution include ADHD and autism, which rise in the United States children population. One out of every seven children in the country develops a neuro-related health issue. To prevent such, the local, state, and federal governments have to work collaboratively to formulate policies that will reduce air pollution
levels from fossil fuel burning in the country. Better healthcare improves the healthcare delivery system in that it reduces health disparities, and the health cost of treating pollution-caused health issues.