Environmental Toxicant

There are a variety of toxicants that causes severe reactions in people’s health. Many of these toxicants are human-made, while others are natural. They are grouped into categories depending on the problems or effects they cause. Some of the known types are carcinogens, mutagens, allergens, neurotoxins, and endocrine disrupters. This paper will focus on human-made toxicants, particularly carcinogens. The toxic agents under this category are known for causing respiratory problems. An example is cigarette smoking, which contains cancer-causing chemicals. It will explain the respiratory system’s normal function, what makes it susceptible to the toxicant, acute and chronic effects of the toxicant, and recent concerns about the toxicant.

Normal Function of Respiratory System and what makes it Susceptible to Toxicity

The respiratory system is responsible for inhalation and exhalation of oxygen and carbon dioxide, respectively. It is made up of different parts that serve the function. The components include; the nose and nasal cavity, mouth, pharynx, trachea, lungs, bronchioles, larynx, and muscles. All these parts work together to facilitate the breathing of a living being. The main organs are the nose, lungs, and breathing tubes. Proper functioning of the respiratory system is crucial for good health (Anatomy of the Respiratory System, 2018). However, the system can be susceptible to toxicity and cause acute and chronic infections.

Since the respiratory system is responsible for breathing, what is in the environment is what it takes. If the air is toxic, then the nose takes in the toxic air into the lungs. The main reason why the respiratory system is susceptible to toxicity is that its organs are outside the skin. So they become the number one organs to be affected by toxicants. For instance, when someone is smoking, people around the smoker become passive smokers because they breathe in the toxic air through their noses.

How Exposure to the Toxicant is Possible

Exposure to cigarette smoking can be made possible in several ways. One, lack of designated places for people who smoke causes other people to be subjected to the smoke. People who smoke in their houses or public places pose a threat to others who are around. Even if an individual does not want to subject themselves to toxicity, they will still be exposed. Two, loose measurers to limit cigarette smoking can also expose the toxicant. If little or no measurers are put, for instance, if cigarettes are taxed the same way as other commodities, then the risk of exposure increases because people will afford it. Lastly, vulnerability is also made possible through a lack of education on the effects of cigarette smoking. If people are not educated that cigarettes are toxic, they continue exposing it to the environment.

Acute and Chronic Effects of the Toxicant

Cigarette smoking has many health effects that are both acute and chronic. Research shows that non-smokers are more likely to develop heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer than active smokers (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014). It means that the smoke is more toxic than the constituents of the cigarette. Smoking increases the risk of coronary heart diseases by 2 to 4 times, lung cancer in men by 25 times, and women by 25.7 times (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014). Smoking is also highly associated with respiratory diseases. The smoke damages the air sacs found in the lungs, causing lung disease. Also, those who have asthma worsen their condition by smoking. Other than the diseases, smoking also causes problems in the reproductive systems for both men and women. For instance, it reduces fertility in men’s sperms and causes miscarriages for women.

Recent Concerns about the Toxicant and Actions taken to reduce it in the environment

Today, people are much more concerned about their health and what goes on in their bodies. While the U.S. government has been reluctant to make cigarette smoking illegal, it has created many interventions to reduce smoking. In 2012, the U.S. government spent $54 million in driving campaigns against cigarette smoking (Szczesniak, n.d.). This came after realizing its effects on people’s health. Also, some laws govern what advertisements about smoking are aired. Advertisements are to warn people of the harm of tobacco and discourage them. For instance, in partnership with the American Legacy Foundation, the Truth Campaign makes adverts on social media. The aim is to discourage young adults and teens from smoking. Some organizations have taken the responsibility of combating smoking, such as the Great American Smoke out. The organization is hosted by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and holds a campaign every third Thursday of November, as stated by “Yale University Library Online Exhibitions” (2020). 

To sum up, toxicants such as cigarette smoke released in the environment cause many respiratory and general health problems. The non-smokers are at a higher risk of contracting the diseases than active smokers because non-smokers breathe in the toxic air that enters into their lungs. Also, active smokers are at risk of developing many types of cancers, including lung cancer. However, the government is at the forefront of helping reduce smoking. Some of the interventions it is doing are holding campaigns against tobacco, enacting laws to reduce smoking advertisements, and partnering and funding with non-governmental organizations that educate people on the side effects of smoking.



Anatomy Of The Respiratory System. (2018, October 29). Anatomy of the respiratory system. Retrieved from https://adrenalfatiguesolution.com/anatomy-of-the-respiratory-system/

Szczesniak, M. (n.d.). The change in public opinion on cigarette smoking. Retrieved from https://sites.psu.edu/mszczesniakeportfolio/the-change-in-public-opinion-on-cigarette-smoking/

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2014). The health consequences of smoking — 50 years of progress: A report of the surgeon general. PsycEXTRA Dataset. doi:10.1037/e510072014-001

Yale University Library Online Exhibitions. (2020). U.S. government and the tobacco industry ยท Yale University library online exhibitions. Retrieved from https://onlineexhibits.library.yale.edu/s/sellingsmoke/page/government