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健康無價 城市空氣污染毀人一生幸福

How city life affects your health and happiness
健康無價 城市空氣污染毀人一生幸福

A recent study has likened city air pollution to smoking a pack of cigarettes each day for 29 years. While the effect on our lungs is undoubtedly troubling, we should also be wary of what the air we breathe is doing to the rest of our bodies.

最近的一項研究將城市空氣污染比作29年來每天吸一包煙。雖然空氣污染對肺部的影響令人擔憂,但我們也應該警惕空氣污染對身體其它部位的影響。

The new study monitored ground-level ozone exposure in 7,000 adults living in cities across the US. Generally, urbanites were exposed to between 10 and 25 parts per billion of ozone, where an increase of three parts per billion equates to smoking an extra pack of cigarettes each day. So, even moving from a low-pollution area into one of the cleaner cities could still increase your risk of respiratory diseases like emphysema – which is more commonly associated with smokers.

這項新的研究監測了美國各城市中7000名成年人的地面臭氧暴露情況。一般來說,城市居民接觸到的空氣中臭氧含量在10億分之10至25之間,而每增加10億分之3的量,就相當于每天多吸一包煙。因此,即使從低污染地區搬到更清潔的城市,仍然會增加患肺氣腫等呼吸道疾病的風險,而肺氣腫通常與吸煙者有關。
 

The World Health Organization (WHO) now calls urban pollution levels a “public health emergency” because 91% of us live in areas where air pollution exceeds the agency’s guidelines. Right now, 55% of the world’s population lives in urban areas. That figure is expected to rise to 68% by 2050, the United Nations estimates. If urban life is a serious concern for our health, mental wellbeing and outlook, then it is only going to become a greater issue for more of us as time passes.

現在世界衛生組織(WHO)將城市污染程度稱為“公共衛生緊急狀態”,因為91%的人生活在空氣污染超過該機構制定標準的地區。目前,全球55%的人口居住在城市。聯合國預計,到2050年,這一比例將升至68%。如果城市生活對我們的身體健康、心理健康和認知狀態構成負面的影響,那么隨著時間的推移,它將成為許多人的嚴重問題。

Mental wellbeing

心理健康


Prevalence of psychiatric disorders is significantly higher among people living in urban areas, says a meta-analysis of 20 pieces of research conducted over the past 35 years. Specifically, people in cities suffer from mood disorders and anxiety at a disproportionately high rate.

一項對過去35年進行的20項研究的薈萃分析顯示,城市居民中精神障礙的患病率明顯偏高。特別是城市里的人患情緒紊亂和焦慮的比例高的離譜。

Compare this to residents who have a sea view – for every 10% increase in the amount of ocean people can see, people’s scores on the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale decreased by one-third of a point. The researchers suggest that “a 20 to 30% increase in blue space visibility could shift someone from moderate distress into a lower category”.

相比之下,住在海邊能看到海洋的人數每增加10%,凱斯勒心理壓力量表(Kessler Psychological Distress Scale)的得分就會下降三分之一。研究人員表示:“藍色海景的能見度增加20%至30%,可能會將一個人從中度抑郁轉變為較低的抑郁類別。”

Education

教育


Perhaps one of the more surprising ways that cities affect us is by making us less clever. Comparing the results of students taking exams with levels of air pollution on the day of exams shows that performances are worse when pollution is highest. The performance of students completing the same exams in the same cities on different days was compared to the levels of pollution on those days. Even small differences in pollution levels were found to have an effect on educational outcomes.

城市空氣污染還有一個更令人驚訝的影響,它會讓我們變得不那么聰明。將參加考試的學生成績與考試當天的空氣污染程度進行比較,結果顯示,污染程度越高,學生成績越差。研究人員將同一城市中的學生,在不同時間完成相同考試的表現,與那些日子的污染程度進行比較。發現污染程度的微小差異也會對考試成績產生影響。

This has a real effect on outcomes later in life. A study in Israel found that high levels of fine particle pollution in the air on the day of high school exit exams had a negative effect on wages in adulthood.

對以后的生活也有實際的影響。以色列的一項研究發現,如果高中畢業考試當天空氣中微粒污染程度較高,可能會對成年后的工資產生負面影響。

Weight

體重


Airborne pollution has also been linked to obesity. While the exact mechanism is still debated, and research has largely been conducted in animals, it is thought that pollution alters the body’s metabolism. This is perhaps due to inflammation in the lungs caused by particles of pollution, which triggers a stress response. Hormones released as part of this can also reduce the effectiveness of insulin, raising blood sugar levels. This response is intended to make sure we have a kick of energy at the ready in stressful situations, but, if we are constantly in a state of slight stress caused by air pollution, then it can have long-term effects on how able we are to process sugar – a first step towards diabetes.

空氣污染也與肥胖有關。雖然確切的機制存在爭議,而且研究主要是在動物身上進行的,但人們認為污染會改變人體的新陳代謝。這可能是由污染顆粒導致肺部炎癥引起的,炎癥會引發應激反應。應激反應中釋放的激素會降低胰島素的效力,提高血糖水平。應激反應的目的是為我們在緊張的壓力狀態下準備好能量,如果空氣污染不斷造成輕微壓力,就會對我們如何處理糖產生長期的影響,這也是邁向糖尿病的第一步。

Large studies, such as one conducted in Canada on 62,000 citizens, seem to corroborate this research. In this case, risk of developing diabetes rose by 11% for every 10 micrograms of fine particles per cubic metre of air.

比如,加拿大對6.2萬民眾進行的一項大規模調查,似乎證實了這一結論。在這種情況下,每立方米空氣中每增加10微克微粒,罹患糖尿病的風險就會增加11%。

What can we do to improve our cities?

我們能做些什么來改善城市空氣質量?


A small amount of green space can make a big difference – particularly for people in lower socioeconomic categories. But smells can also make cities a more pleasant place to live. Providing an area to retreat away from the bustle of a city can improve people’s psychological wellbeing.

少量的綠地也能產生很大的作用,尤其是對社會經濟地位較低的人群。清新的氣味也能使城市成為一個適宜居住的地方。提供一個遠離城市喧囂的地方,可以改善人們的心理健康狀態。

In Beijing, a “smog free tower” about 7m (23ft) high is claimed to be able to clean the air in an area the size of a football pitch. The structure resembles a giant beehive. Electrical charges suck airborne particles into the tower. The particles are then trapped by a negatively charged dust-removal plate.

在北京,一座高約7米(23英尺)的“霧霾凈化塔”據稱能夠凈化一個足球場大小區域的空氣。它的結構像一個巨大的蜂巢。電荷把空氣中的微粒吸入塔中。然后粒子被帶負電荷的除塵板捕獲。

In Mexico City, a giant honeycomb-like structure adorns the side of Hospital Manuel Gea Gonzalez. This structure works in a similar way to the catalytic converter in your car. A catalytic coating reacts with dangerous nitrogen dioxide leaving a harmless salt. The designers claim it can remove the equivalent of 1,000 cars-worth of pollution per day.

在墨西哥城,曼努埃爾·蓋亞·岡薩雷斯(Manuel Gea Gonzalez)醫院的一側也安裝著一個巨大的蜂巢狀結構的“空氣轉化器”。它的工作原理與汽車中的催化轉化器類似。催化涂層與有害的二氧化氮發生反應,生成無害的鹽。設計師稱,它每天可以清除相當于1000輛汽車的污染。
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