Research public health issues on the ‘Climate Change’ or & ‘Topics and Issues’ pages of the American Public Health Association (APHA) website. Investigate a public health issue related to an environmental issue within the U.S. health care delivery system and examine its effect on a specific population.
Write a 750-1,000-word policy brief that summarizes the issue, explains the effect on the population, and proposes a solution to the issue.
Follow this outline when writing the policy brief:
Describe the policy health issue. Include the following information: (a) what population is affected, (b) at what level does it occur (local, state, or national), and (c) evidence about the issues supported by resources.
Create a problem statement.
Provide suggestions for addressing the health issue caused by the current policy. Describe what steps are required to initiate policy change. Include necessary stakeholders (government officials, administrator) and budget or funding considerations, if applicable.
Discuss the impact on the health care delivery system.
Include three peer-reviewed sources and two other sources to support the policy brief.
Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center.
This assignment uses a rubric. Please review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion.
You are required to submit this assignment to LopesWrite. A link to the LopesWrite technical support articles is located in Course Resources if you need assistance.
Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
The benchmark assesses the following competencies:
1.4 Participate in health care policy development to influence nursing practice and health care.
Climate change has become one of the most significant public health issues in the US. This is because various aspects of climate change result in devastating health impacts. One aspect of climate change that is causing a devastating impact on the health of American citizens is air pollution. Despite the tremendous progress in cleaning the air since the 1970s, after the implementation of EPA, air pollution in the US continues to harm people’s health. Research shows that some pollutants can harm public health even at deficient levels (Bekkar et al., 2020). Today, pollution levels in many areas of the US exceed national air quality standards. While some sources of air pollution are domestic, others travel long distances and across state lines. Air pollution in the US is caused by solid and liquid particles and certain gases suspended in the air. The US’s significant causes of air pollution include mobile sources such as motor vehicles and trains, stationary sources such as power plants, oil refineries, industrial facilities, and factories and area sources – such as agricultural areas and burning fireplaces. Research indicates that one of the US populations greatly affected by air pollution is the pediatric population. Due to poor lung development, pediatric populations are at significant risk of respiratory illnesses arising from air pollution compared to the adult population (Bekkar et al., 2020).
One of the health impacts of air pollution is respiratory illnesses. The pediatric population in the US report the highest number of patients reporting in the emergency room with respiratory illnesses related to climate change (Gonzales & Whalen, 2022). Children face a particular health risk associated with the air pollution because their respiratory system is underdeveloped. Children respiratory organs attains full growth as they grow in to adults. Children are also more active than adults, thus breathing a great deal of the polluted air. Besides, the body defense system that helps adults resist the health impact of air pollution is underdeveloped in children, thus they are more likely to be affected by air pollution. Children are also more active thus spend more outdoor time than adults, during which they breathe polluted air. These factors increase their susceptibility to air pollution.
Some studies have found that air pollution can endanger children while they are still in the womb. Air pollution is related to a significant risk of preterm birth, underweight and other birth complications when pregnant women are exposed to air pollution (Bekkar et al., 2020). Despite the increasing efforts to control air pollution in the US, the rate of pediatrics presenting to the ER with respiratory illnesses such as asthma attacks, shortness of breath, and aggravated lung diseases is rising. Besides, the increased hospitalizations and premature death related to air pollution are alarming. Respiratory complications are causing premature death and the rising cost of healthcare (Perera, 2018). These adverse experiences are affecting nurse morale. There is, therefore, a need to address the issue of air pollution. Despite the significant levels of air pollution in the US, policy actions such as the Clean Air Act have yielded the most significant air pollution control in the US so far. However, poor enforcement of quality air policies due to budget constraints has impaired these policies’ implementation, especially in rural areas. As a result, children in rural areas are exposed to air pollution more than their urban counterparts Therefore, addressing the policy actions and increased funding to enable policy enforcement seems promising.
Suggestion for addressing the policy issue
Since the respiratory problems facing the pediatric population in the US are caused by air pollution, cleaning up the air can help address them. Air pollution in the US can be addressed through various policy actions. So far, since the implementation of the Clean Air Act, a substantial reduction in air pollution has been witnessed in the US (Nethery et al., 2021). Although the reduction in air pollutants has not reached safe levels, putting more progress in implementing the provisions of the Clean Air Act seems a promising approach in attaining quality air in America. Therefore, the first suggestion to address the air pollution in the US is increasing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding. EAP is tasked with controlling environmental pollution by enforcing policies such as the clean air act. However, since 2016, the EAP budget was significantly reduced, impairing the agency’s innovativeness, research and ability to reinforce clean air and implement quality air programs in the community (Nethery et al., 2021). Therefore, increasing EAP funding will improve EAP’s ability to research on more unidentified toxins and develop more technical programs to detect air pollution.
Another potential approach is increasing validation of the toxin monitoring technologies being developed. Although currently there are many air quality monitors in the US, they are outdated as they only monitor toxins listed during the implementation of the clean air act in 1990 (Hand et al., 2020). Consequently, the newly developing toxins go unnoticed, putting people living around commercial and industrial toxics sources at risk of poor health. There is therefore, a need to evaluate the current monitoring programs for accuracy and efficiency.
Another significant contributor to air pollution n is poor literacy among citizens regarding the potential sources of air pollution. Therefore, increasing the availability of educational material helps the public understand what actions are required to minimize exposure to air pollution. By reducing air pollution using these suggested evidence-based approaches, there will be a reduction in the rate of ER visits, hospitalizations, premature deaths and cost of healthcare-related to air pollution in the pediatric population.
Impact on Health Care Delivery Systems
Air pollution and the consequent health impact on the pediatric population negatively affect the healthcare delivery system. The increasing number of children with respiratory conditions related to air pollution has increased pediatric emergency room visits and hospitalizations. This has increased congestion and resource constraint, thus burdened the US healthcare system and impaired adequate delivery of other care services such as preventive care. Besides, although little is known about the cost of air pollution-related health care; there is enough research indicating that the increased ER and hospitalizations among pediatric populations have increased the cost of healthcare (Hand et al., 2020). Besides, the adverse events such as poor care outcomes and increased mortalities resulting from pediatric complications arising from air pollution negatively impact providers’ morale, impairing adequate care delivery.
Although air pollution in the US is on a declining trend, air quality is still unsafe. Consequently, air pollution continues to impact public health negatively. One of the most affected populations by air pollution are children. The negative implications of air pollution on children’s respiratory health impose a significant cost burden on the US healthcare system. There is, therefore, a need to empower EAP creativity and innovativeness in developing quality air programs through federal funding. There is also a need to increase public awareness of air pollution through public education programs.
Bekkar, B., Pacheco, S., Basu, R., & DeNicola, N. (2020). Association of air pollution and heat exposure with preterm birth, low birth weight, and stillbirth in the US: a systematic review. JAMA network open, 3(6), e208243-e208243. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/article-abstract/2767260
Gonzales, T., & Whalen, E. (2022). Easy Breathing: A Review of the Impact of Air Quality on Pediatric Health Outcomes. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 36(1), 57-63. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pedhc.2021.08.002
Hand, J. L., Prenni, A. J., Copeland, S., Schichtel, B. A., & Malm, W. C. (2020). Thirty years of the Clean Air Act Amendments: Impacts on haze in remote regions of the United States (1990–2018). Atmospheric Environment, 243, 117865. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2020.117865
Nethery, R. C., Mealli, F., Sacks, J. D., & Dominici, F. (2021). Evaluation of the health impacts of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments using causal inference and machine learning. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 116(535), 1128-1139. https://doi.org/10.1080/01621459.2020.1803883
Perera, F. (2018). Pollution from fossil-fuel combustion is the leading environmental threat to global pediatric health and equity: Solutions exist. International journal of environmental research and public health, 15(1), 16. https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/15/1/16