Literature Review Air Pollution’s Relationship to Asthma and Related public Health Interventions in the US-Mexico Border Region Introduction: In recent years residents along both sides of the United States-Mexico border have lived amidst the rapid growth associated with free trade and globalization. While beneficial to corporations, economic growth has negatively impacted the environment, health, and quality of life of these residents (Dahl, 2004). This review focuses on one environmental threat along the border, rising air pollution, and the impact on respiratory disease of border residents.
First, evidence for the linkage between air pollutants and respiratory disease will be reviewed, followed by an examination of interventions that have addressed this growing problem. Many factors contribute to air contamination on the border including industry, lack Of vehicular emission controls, dirt roads, poor fuel quality, open burning (Crispin, 1994), agricultural dust and pesticides, and an expanding inquisitorial industry (English, 1998). Especially vulnerable to Hess environmental problems is the large low-income population that lives along the border.
In its 2001 annual report, the US-Mexico Border Health Commission estimated that 35 percent of the 1 1. 5 million people residing in the 42 United States counties and 39 Mexican counties that line the border live below the poverty line. Like many low-income minority groups, low income border residents are more likely to be exposed to outdoor air pollutants and live in substandard housing with inadequate air circulation and alteration (Alexander et al, 2000).
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, exposure to both outdoor and indoor air pollution can cause, aggravate, and trigger certain respiratory diseases such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, pulmonary fibrosis, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and lung cancer (See Table 1). Because the lung diseases listed in Table 1 differ greatly in their nature and treatment, the primary focus of this literature review will be on issues related to asthma in order to best support bequest activities involving federally funded Migrant Health Centers along the US-Mexico Border.
Asthma is thought to be caused by a combination of environmental, genetic, and socio-economic factors and is potentially fatal if left untreated. Studies have shown that high levels of certain ambient air contaminants, tobacco smoke, indoor allergens, and agricultural pesticides aggravate asthmatic symptoms.