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My social justice issue is about air pollution and about how it affects people like athletes,

those with breathing conditions, and just normal people, as in everyone, in general. A close
person to me, although I could do many friends of my, is my little brother Noah. He deals with it
more than most people being that he plays soccer and other sports and also has a problem with
his breathing.
Noah is four years younger than me he is in the eighth grade. He’s a soccer player like
me and he play for a club called 7 Elite. A couple months ago he started having troubles
breathing during games and practice, which has never happened before so it was weird for him
to struggle. It has made it difficult for him to play because he is a midfielder, which means he
runs more than anyone else on the field. He thinks, as well as my family thinks, he may have
developed asthma in this time or the air pollution may just be giving him troubles breathing. This
occurs because the pollutants, most of them at least, enter into the airways first. The respiratory
system ends up being the first line of defense so it is affected the most from the more harmful
pollutants. These pollutants cause irritation in the trachea and can cause asthma problems or
other problems for different respiratory diseases (NCBI).
Our doctor has told Noah he needs to use an inhaler to help him breathe whenever he
does physical activity. Noah says he has to use his inhaler before and after games, using ten
deep breathes from his inhaler about half and hour before his activity, such as a game or
practice, and right after doing physical activities. I asked him how his respiratory problems affect
him mentally and physically. Noah said “I think having breathing problems affects me…
[mentally]... like I feel like I can’t play and I feel sad. I don’t know what to do and it kind of makes
it not very fun when I can’t play my best. Sometimes I think I let my team down and my coach
just pulls me out.” On toolkit.org, it says “... asthma also increases anxiety and depression in
many…” It also states that if they get depression or anxiety, they feel more physically and
mentally drained, which can limit how well they can control their asthma and breathing. I
personally can see this in Noah. He gets anxious real easy and doesn’t have the confidence he
used to have. It’s hard to watch him play soccer or any other sport when he feels down or
struggles to breathe so he doesn’t perform well. Recently he has decided to quit soccer
because he has fallen out of the sport. I can see he struggles and it isn’t fun for him when he
doesn’t get the playing time he wants and my parents get mad at him because he isn’t playing
as much as he used to.
My mom talks about how Noah seems weaker when he plays all the time and it doesn’t
boost his confidence anymore. He just gets upset when we say he needs to try harder and do
better, but he can’t. One of the games I remember him struggling was a home game against
one of the lower teams in his division. I never go to many of his games because I always either
play or I was referring to earn some money because that is the only way I can get money, but
this was one of the few games I went to and it wasn’t enjoyable because when I got there I had
not known that he was having respiratory problems so I didn’t know the reason why he was
sitting on the bench. He didn’t play much that game, which was unusual because normally he’s
always in. It wasn’t fun watching other people’s siblings or kids play when they are not as good
or don’t play like they want to be there. That day I learned he had some respiratory issue that
affected his breathing but I didn’t know why it all of the suddenly appeared. In an essay by
Miguel Rosas, I learned that the more pollutants there were in the air, the higher blood pressure
was and the body has lower ventilator function. This means the higher the levels of pollutants
there are, the lower the body performs in aerobic exercises, which are exercises where the body
needs oxygen.
All these issues affect Noah and how he plays, and I also notice that they affect me and
my teammates sometimes. Occasionally, one of the best runners in our class just falters when
he runs and he finishes way behind what he normally does. The air pollution prevents normal
breathing functions which in turn can lead to lower performance levels, then that leads to mental
issues. It’s just a chain that winds down to bad consequences, which is why we need to fix the
problem of the pollution by reducing idle car use, electricity usage, and many other ways.

“Asthma and Mental Health.” ​Severe Asthma Toolkit​,


Ghorani-Azam, Adel et al. “Effects of air pollution on human health and practical measures for prevention
in Iran” ​Journal of research in medical sciences : the official journal of Isfahan University of Medical
Sciences​ vol. 21 65. 1 Sep. 2016, doi:10.4103/1735-1995.189646

Campos Rosas, Miguel A. “Figure 2f from: Irimia R, Gottschling M (2016) Taxonomic Revision
of Rochefortia Sw. (Ehretiaceae, Boraginales). Biodiversity Data Journal 4: e7720.
Https://Doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.4.e7720.” ​Effect of Air Pollution on Athletes’ Performance, Health,
and Mortality ​, doi:10.3897/bdj.4.e7720.figure2f.