NRS 428 Benchmark Policy Brief

NRS 428 Benchmark Policy Brief

NRS 428 Benchmark Policy Brief

Benchmark Policy Brief: Climate Change

            Climate change can harm human health due to the increasing ground-level ozone. Air pollution is one of the main factors that contribute to climate change globally. In the United States, most urban centers are affected by minimal air quality causing increased risks of respiratory and cardiovascular complications (Arnetz et al., 2020). The purpose of this policy brief is to provide a summary of the impact of air pollution on population health and the proposed interventions to address the issue.

Policy Health Issue

            Air pollution refers to the release of pollutants like dust or chemicals into the environmental air. Prolonged exposure to air pollution is associated with several adverse health outcomes. Air pollution increases the risks of heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory infections (Piscitelli et al., 2019). The impact of air pollution is however worse among individuals who are already ill. Some of the main sources of air pollution include waste burning, pesticides, coal-fired power plants, light and heating, inefficient combustion of household cooking fuels, and inefficient modes of transport.

Affected Population

            Both short-term and long-term exposure to polluted air can lead to health complications for anyone. However, studies show that people who are already ill are affected the most. Consequently, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the elderly, children, and poor people are more susceptible to health complications due to air pollution. This is mainly because of their low immune system. Additionally, pregnant women who are exposed to polluted air are at high risk of giving birth to premature and underdeveloped children.

Levels of Air Pollution

            Air pollution is a global health problem, which is more pronounced in developing countries as a result of industrialization. It can affect anyone who breathes polluted air, compromising their health. Several policies have been enacted to combat the issue at the local, state, and federal levels in the United States. A good example is the Air Pollution Control Act implemented in 1955 and the Clean Act of 1963 (Piscitelli et al., 2019). It is also important to note that the level to which air pollution affects people depend on the pollutant. For example, a family with a smoking parent may expose the children to tobacco smoke in the house, leading to respiratory health problems.

Problem Statement

            Air pollution is associated with several health complications across all ages. Children are however the most affected as air pollution can impair neurodevelopment and cognitive ability causing childhood cancer and asthma. Long-term exposure to air pollution can also lead to permanent health complications such as accelerated aging of the lungs. Additionally, Coccia (2021) reported that the economic burden of air pollution from fossil fuels in the United States in 2018 was approximately 3% of the country’s GDP. As such, it is important to come up with appropriate strategies at the local, state and global levels to reduce the extent of air pollution and associated health risks.

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Addressing Air Pollution

            Primary factors which promote air pollution should be the main focus when developing appropriate strategies to solve the issue. Several policies have been developed to reduce the extent of air pollution. Such policies include the carbon tax, subsidy of alternative energy sources,  the Clean Air Act (1956), and changing consumers’ behavior through advertisement (Arnetz et al., 2020). Changing such policies will first involve identification of the significant area for enhancement, proving to the involved stakeholders such as the community members on the need for the change and finally developing relevant recommendations to promote a positive outcome. The new policy then can go to the senate or house hearing depending on the lobbying delegate, for approval (Horne et al., 2018). The national government and non-governmental organizations promoting a clean environment are usually the main sources of finances to promote such policies aimed at reducing air pollution.

NRS 428 Benchmark Policy Brief
NRS 428 Benchmark Policy Brief

Impact on the Health Care Delivery System

            Air pollution has contributed to several health complications increased the morbidity and mortality rates of the affected population. According to the WHO, air pollution is the reason why more than 34 million patients visit emergency rooms due to a triggered asthmatic attack worldwide every year(Slama et al., 2019). Heart disease and lung cancer and other respiratory disease caused by air pollution also increase the rates of hospitalization and nurse visits increasing the healthcare cost of the affected population. As such, the adoption of appropriate mitigating strategies will help reduce the health burden associated with air pollution.


            Climate change affects the health of humans by making the environmental air less healthy to breathe. Commonly associated health conditions include heart disease and respiratory complications. However, with the adoption of appropriate strategies, such health complications can be avoided by reducing the extent of air pollution among the most vulnerable population.


Arnetz, B. B., Arnetz, J., Harkema, J. R., Morishita, M., Slonager, K., Sudan, S., & Jamil, H. (2020). Neighborhood air pollution and household environmental health as it relates to respiratory health and healthcare utilization among elderly persons with asthma. Journal of Asthma57(1), 28-39.

Coccia, M. (2021). High health expenditures and low exposure of 2population to air pollution as critical factors that can reduce fatality rate in COVID-19 pandemic crisis: a global analysis. Environmental Research199, 111339. DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2021.111339

Horne, B. D., Joy, E. A., Hofmann, M. G., Gesteland, P. H., Cannon, J. B., Lefler, J. S., … & Pope III, C. A. (2018). Short-term elevation of fine particulate matter air pollution and acute lower respiratory infection. American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine198(6), 759-766.       

Piscitelli, P., Valenzano, B., Rizzo, E., Maggiotto, G., Rivezzi, M., Esposito Corcione, F., & Miani, A. (2019). Air pollution and estimated health costs related to road transportations of goods in Italy: A first healthcare burden assessment. International journal of environmental research and public health16(16), 2876.

Slama, A., Śliwczyński, A., Woźnica, J., Zdrolik, M., Wiśnicki, B., Kubajek, J., … & Franek, E. (2019). Impact of air pollution on hospital admissions with a focus on respiratory diseases: a time-series multi-city analysis. Environmental Science and Pollution Research26(17), 16998-17009.