The environment surrounding us is essential to our overall health and well-being. From the air we inhale to the roads we drive on, the quality of our environment directly impacts our physical and mental health.
According to a concerning statistic by Happy People, 23% of all deaths are caused by preventable environmental health issues. Startlingly, human-made ecological issues contribute to even more deaths.
And so, we’ve reached a point where we must be aware of the environmental factors impacting our health. In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most common environmental health risks and discuss how to reduce exposure to them.
1. Chemical Toxicity
Chemical toxicity refers to the harmful effects of chemicals on human health, ranging from mild irritations to severe illnesses and even death. Exposure to toxic chemicals can occur through inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact.
One example of a highly toxic chemical is asbestos. It is a heat-proof construction material that was widely used in construction and manufacturing around the 1900s.
However, prolonged exposure to asbestos fibers could cause serious lung diseases. Mesothelioma is the most prevalent type of cancer caused by asbestos.
Since asbestos removal is a complex and costly process, it continues to pose a significant health hazard for those who come into contact with it. Veterans and construction workers are particularly at risk. Asbestos exposure falls under wrongful death law in many countries.
So, anyone exposed to asbestos should consult a lawyer. They can help you determine if a mesothelioma lawsuit is a right option to hold negligent parties accountable and seek compensation.
2. Air Pollution
Air pollution is a significant environmental health concern that can harm human health. It is caused by the release of harmful substances into the air, including:
- Particulate matter
- Nitrogen dioxide
- Sulfur dioxide
These pollutants can enter the lungs and bloodstream, causing respiratory diseases, heart disease, stroke, and premature death. Children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing health conditions are particularly vulnerable to the health effects of air pollution.
The sources of air pollution are numerous. But the ones that pose the greatest risk to human health are motor vehicles, factories, and the burning of fossil fuels. To reduce air pollution levels and protect our health, we must do the following:
- Use clean energy sources, such as solar and wind power
- Reduce vehicle emissions through the use of public transportation, walking, or cycling
- Implement regulations to limit emissions from industrial and agricultural activities
Reducing air pollution can significantly improve public health and promote a more sustainable environment.
3. Climate Change and Natural Disasters
According to the National Environmental Health Association, climate change represents this century’s most formidable human health risk.
Natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires, can cause significant damage to infrastructure and disrupt the lives of millions worldwide.
Climate change is also causing sea levels to rise. It is increasing the risk of flooding in coastal areas. Global warming also contributes to more intense and frequent heat waves and droughts.
These natural disasters can have profound health impacts, including physical injuries, mental health problems, and the spread of infectious diseases.
And so, it is essential to implement measures to mitigate the effects of climate change. Some effective strategies include:
- Reduce greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels
- Use renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power
- Promote sustainable farming practices
- Implement regulations to protect wildlife and natural habitats
4. Poor Water Quality
We use water for various activities, like drinking, bathing, cleaning our homes and yards, and irrigating crops. But if our water is contaminated, it can pose a severe risk to our health.
Water pollution is caused by many factors, including industrial waste, agricultural runoff, and oil spills. It can contain various chemicals, heavy metals, and pathogens which can cause a range of illnesses. The most common water-borne diseases are cholera, typhoid fever, and norovirus.
According to Verywell Health, more than 780 million people across the globe don’t have access to clean drinking water. This lack of access is linked to a higher poverty rate and poor health outcomes.
To ensure these digits drop, we must take action to monitor and protect our water sources. It includes reducing or eliminating pollution from industrial and agricultural activities, protecting wetlands and other water catchments, and investing in infrastructure to provide clean drinking water.
5. Infrastructural Issues
Infrastructural issues are problems related to the built environment, such as transportation, housing, and public utilities. These issues can significantly impact public health, particularly in low-income and marginalized communities.
For example, poor housing conditions can lead to respiratory illnesses and other health problems, while inadequate transportation can make it difficult for people to access healthcare and healthy food options.
Additionally, aging infrastructure, such as water and sewer systems, can pose health risks due to contamination and malfunctions. Exposure to lead-contaminated water is a particular concern. It can cause behavioral and cognitive problems, especially in children.
Addressing infrastructural issues requires a comprehensive approach that includes government investment in infrastructure, public-private partnerships, and community engagement.
6. Diseases Caused by Microbes
Microbes are microscopic organisms, such as bacteria and viruses, that can cause disease.
Infectious diseases caused by microbes include the common cold, influenza, and pneumonia. But even more, serious illnesses can spread through contact with contaminated food or water. These include hepatitis A, E. coli, salmonella, and cholera.
Unfortunately, many of these diseases are still common in developing countries due to poor sanitation and limited access to healthcare.
To reduce the spread of these diseases, it is essential to implement safe food handling and hygiene practices and provide access to clean water, sanitation services, and vaccines.
The environment plays a significant role in our health, and it is essential to understand the potential risks so we can take action to protect ourselves. By reducing our environmental impact and investing in protecting and monitoring the environment, we can help ensure better health outcomes for ourselves and future generations.
We all have a role to play in protecting the environment, and if we work together, we can make a real difference.