Health, Pollution and Traffic Conditions Within Mega Cities

With an constantly growing world, there are various settings in which one may live. Megacities are cities with populations totaling more than ten million people. Currently, there are an estimated 23 mega cities worldwide. However, by the year 2015, the number of megacities is expected to grow to 36.

As of today, the top ten megacities are:
Tokyo, Japan 26.4 million
Mexico City, Mexico 18.4 million
Bombay, India 18.1 million
Sao Paulo, Brazil 17.8 million
Shanghai, China 17.0 million
New York City, USA 16.6 million
Lagos, Nigeria 13.4 million
Los Angeles, USA 13.1 million
Calcutta, India 12.9 million
Buenos Aires, Argentina 12.6 million

These megacities take up approximately only 2 percent of the Earth’s land surface, yet they account for roughly 75 percent of industrial wood use, 60 percent of human water use, and nearly 80 percent of all human produced carbon emissions.
At the height of its empire in 5 A.D., Rome became the first city in the world to have a population of more than one million. At that time, the world’s population was only170 million. Nearly 17 centuries later, one metropolitan area inhibited that many people. This city was Beijing, which surpassed one million population around 1800, followed soon after by New York and London. But at that time city life was the exception; only three percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas in 1800. Today megacities are ten plus million people.

With this large of a population, health and transportation condition are vital to a city’s success; however some of the largest cities in the world have some of the worst experiences within these topics. In New Delhi the most common disease included respiratory aliments, fevers gastrointestinal infections, diarrheas and dysentery. “In 1971-1972 Delhi, 24,299 people died from miscellaneous cause, the next major cause was tuberculosis (1,902), fever (921), other respiratory disease (708), and pneumonia (592).” Many who died from these diseases were not aware they were infected with the diseases, they unknowing pass the spread of the infection around to other people.

During the 1971-1972 the healthcare systems in Delhi were controlled by the Indian Federal Government, who gave very little control to the crisis taking place. In 1976-1986 the government lost its tight grip over the health program and began giving more power to the cities to solve the increasingly detrimental problem. New Delhi now had more control over its city and has opened up 23 Respiratory Special Hospitals between 1977-1980. They have also implemented a major awareness program. This program has people visiting neighborhoods and informing citizens of specific diseases and how to treat them. They also set up mobile respiratory checkpoints. Another important investment made was to invest in more adequate training for new doctors and care specialists from other areas of New Delhi.

In Africa, the major factor of health in Cairo is involved with the environment. Air pollution from northern winds into the city bombard citizens with toxic fumes from the lead zinc factories in Shubrie-al Khaymah. Winds coming from the South are just as dangerous often filled with pollutants from the street and the cement factories in Hehan. The problem is vitally obvious, so much so, that after a week of these winds, trees will be a dead brown color. However, Cairo’s main cause of air pollution is traffic jams. The carbon monoxide level in some areas of Egypt is three or four times higher than what is considered dangerous.

Yet, another huge health issue facing Cairo is its city waste removal. Due to financial issues, the city has no organized collection of waste removal. In one area of Cairo Zabalhe, people extract items as tins, glasses papers, plastics, rags, and bones from garbage. Organic matter from waste food in the refuse is used to feed pigs, which the Zabeilina breed for meat and sausages to sell in markets. This system feeds forty thousand households in Cairo. A study done by the Conservation Foundation found out that with these condition nearly forty percent of babies born in Cairo die within the first three years of life. Most likely this is due to the high levels of malnutrition.

Another mega city within Asia has problems with pollution – air and water. Air pollution in Shanghai is primary caused by coal burning factors. 70 percent of all its energy needs are fueled by coal. Coal is the dirtiest form of all major fuels. Coal burning in China is extremely inefficient and emissions are correspondingly heavy.

A figure from Smilcites, a Shanghai Monetary Company, shows that 1,822 tons of dust per month fall on Shanghai. This dust contains high amounts of carcinogens when inhaled. There have been massive efforts to control air pollution. The first steps were to cover the factories with air filters. And then all new panels that were built would have some greater form of air filtering. The threat still remains nearly 20 years later when 20 million Shanghaians have traded in their bikes for cars. This change likely will increase the amount of smog as well.

Back in New Dehli, transportation corporation which manages inner city travel has tripled the amount of buses within the city over the last 20 years. 15,000 buses were available, in the same time the number of consumers went from three million to nine million, so there still is a huge problem of public transportation. The other pressing issue in Delhi is the interstate buses. The largest interstate bus terminal is setup in Delhi where most buses have to travel to get to nearby cities such as Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Padesh and Rahasthan.

The number of airbuses to Delhi has also increased within the last 20 years. Pelham Airbus is one of the world’s busiest airports. More than 50 airlines fly in and out of this terminal. The airport itself is modern however, as soon as you leave the airport you cannot help but notice Delhi poverty stricken issues.

In the Northern Hemisphere, Mexico City has a demanding 30 million residents commuting daily. Only 16 percent of these people use private transportation. The residents of Mexico City rely heavily on public transportation. The city has over six million commuters who relied on the six lines and 85 stations to move them from place to place. The domestic form of transportation is buses where nearly a third of daily trips occur. Many areas of the city have no commuting rail, so the residents are force to board crowded buses.

Many of the residents in the extremely poor areas receive government subsides for transportation. This is because of the private bus company’s annual rise of nearly 10 percent. Automobile uses 66 percent of the gasoline total, and public transportation less than 22 percent. During normal rush hour, traffic jams are a way of life; most likely because of the limited roads within Mexico City.

Traffic jams are just as stressful in Asia. In Tokyo, the increase in economic growth has created on of the world’s largest commuter traffic jam. Although the facilities that transport commuters are among the best in the world. The increasing amount of commuters pack trains and buses. During the 1950’s, Japan began to enter the auto manufacturing age, which flooded the middle class city in Tokyo with cars. From 1960 to the summer Olympics in 1964 the amount of cars in Tokyo doubled, and a massive construction went underway to create new highways for the city.

The government in Tokyo continued to urge its citizens to used public transportation, particularly the trains. This effort by the government has proven to be successful; forty-five percent of all transportation is done by train. Also the city has undertaken massive projects to expand the train system to stretch all over the city.

Within New York City, the demand for public transportation is just as apparent. Nearly 2.4 bullion people use the Metropolitan Transportation Authority a year, which was opened in 1904. These people make up about one in every three users of mass transit in the United States and nearly two-thirds of the nation’s rail riders. They serve nearly 14.6 million people in a 5,000 square mile area that travels from NYC to Long Island, southeastern New York state and Connecticut linking nearly 22 communities.

The average amount of passengers on a weekday is 7,711,945. They travel through the 343 rail/subways and bus routes, 2,058 of train track miles and 2,967 bus miles, and 734 rail stations. Buses account for nearly 80 percent of the city’s total surface mass transportation area. Also, the authority’s bridges and tunnels carry nearly 300 million vehicles yearly – which is more than any other authority in the nation.

Nearly, four out of every five rush-hour commuters within the city avoid traffic jams by using transit services. New York ranks near the top among the nation’s best cities for business, says Fortune magazine, because it has what every city desires, a workable mass transit system. The MTA has carried the largest public works rebuilding project since 1982 in the entire United States. It seems that the Transportation within New York is substantial for its needs.

However, pollution within the city continues to be a problem even since the passage of the 1990 Clean Air Act. The area continues to exceed federal health standards for ozone and smog. The EPA published a report in April 2004 that concluded that New Yorkers breathe air that does not meet federal health standards for smog. They believed the pollution is due to dirty emissions that are produced within the tri-state areas and airborne contaminants from the Midwest and Central Canada. Also, in Manhattan, the current federal health standard for particulates such as soot are likely to exceed the standard as well. Many believe this has something to do with the result of the September 11 incident and the continuous clean up process still taking place. These conditions contribute to a high incident rate of asthma (almost double the New York State average and up to six times the national average).

Many believe these problems are attributed to vehicle emissions that are casued when hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides meet sunlight. In 1990, the census reported that only 26% of people living Manhattan owned cars, however over the last nearly two decades, that has increased nearly 53%, which directly contributes to the gridlock days in Manhattan on access highways. As mentioned before, the city relies heavily on buses. The diesel tailpipe emissions from these vehicles also contribute to a large amount of toxic carcinogen particulates in the air. The amount of air pollution has erred since the closing of the Fresh Kills landfill a few years ago. The amount of emissions produced from the truck routes traveling through multiple residential areas become a significant problem within the city.

Another major problem involving the growing popularity of sport utility vehicles (SUVs). These cars are subjected to much less strict emissions standards. The troubling factor within these vehicle is that they produce nearly an average of 40% more carbon dioxide than cars do with their average fuel milage requirements being significantly lower. NYC’s air quality is also impacted by the emissions that are produced from coal and oil-based heating systems, sewage treatment vapors, local power plants and wind-blown pollution that originate from Midwestern coal-fired power plants. Manhattan reportedly is the highest-ranking city in the state for sulfur dioxide concentration because of it’s great amount of residential and commercial buildings that require space heating.

The increased airplane emissions also contribute to the city’s poor air quality. Queens, is especially effected because it houses both the John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia. The Natural Resources Defense Council reports that the area is among the top producer of ozone and smog. The emissions from one plane is equal to that of nearly 3,000 cars. This contribute to a high rate of asthma in children in Queens.

Those living in Staten Island are exposed to the poor air that is emitted from Newark Airport and New Jersey industry plants.
Health conditions within the city are shorter than the national average. However, the area houses some of the finest hospitals and medical facilities within the country. As mentioned before, respiratory and asthma rates for both adults and children are higher within the city than that of the rest of the state. The city’s influenza rates are also higher than other areas within the state, most likely because of the living conditions implemented within the city.

Megacities influence a variety of living conditions for citizens. While the constant grind of traffic jams, poor air quality and increasing health risks, people continue to choose to live the city life. It is hopeful though that with time, more programs will be im-plemented and more problems will be solved to continuously help improve living conditions for those in metropolitan areas.

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