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Polluted Air and Health
before March 9, 2006


Scientists from RAS Institute for Biology Fundamental Problem compared air pollution and population morbidity in the city of Serpukhov (Moscow region) for recent ten years. Despite a significant decrease of harmful atmospheric emission, they stated 1,5-fold increase of population morbidity in the environmentally neglected city regions. They also found the significant growth of respiratory diseases.

The influence of the environment on public health is often less significant than social, heritable and biological factors. However, there are methods, which allow calculating morbidity relations with unfavorable ecological situation. Researchers have divided Serpukhov into districts according to their distance from active industrial enterprises. Most polluted regions had annual output of contaminating emissions of 500 tons per square km, and most safe – not more than ten tons. Scientists used child, teenage and adult morbidity data of local health centres. Special attention was given to little children, because this population group is the most sensitive to environmental changes and spends more time in their living area than adults do.

What are the results of the research? Average amount of registered morbid events didn’t change significantly, and even decreased in the teenage population group. But in the areas, marked as the most polluted ones, both children and adults tended to ail more often. According to the doctors, the most common cases are respiratory and digestive organs’ diseases. However, the doctors consider other diseases – nephritis, bronchial asthma, diabetes, nervous, endocrine and blood system diseases and sense organ diseases – to be growing due to polluted air. The birth and death rates in the region are the same as in the country. But birthrate in Serpukhov is lower than Russia’s average, and death rate is 20% higher.

Serpukhov is one of large industrial centres of Moscow region. Here you can find chemical plants, textile factories and mechanic engineering works. However, industry shares only 1/3 of all pollution, and 2/3s are emitted to the air by vehicles. Since early 90s the concentration of some hazardous alloys, such as acetone and benzopyrene, has dropped below maximum acceptable concentration due to suspension of production. But concentration of nitrous oxides, which can be found in exhaust gases, in the air has grown.

The scientists suggest that information on contamination and its distribution over the region may help reducing polluted air harmful effects on human health. They can control ecological situation in Serpukhov and, if it improves, morbidity falls several-fold, especially in children population group.

Tags: health     

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