The environment has a bigger influence on our general wellbeing in different ways. Not only our exposures to physical, biological and physical pathogens would put us at risk, but our general social interaction with these risk factors would pose a threat to our healthy living. Generally, people would consider poor nutrition and lack of exercise as the cause of their poor health. According to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (p. 78), hardly do you hear people get concerned with the way their houses are designed, modes of transport, and even land use systems.
These are basically the traditional factors that have posed health hazards to human race from time immemorial. This paper will discuss the impact of environment on our health on three fronts; physical, chemical and biological environments. Physical hazards Currently the world is grappling with the debate on how to combat global warming. Although not yet recorded as a major cause of deaths in the world, the adverse effects of high temperatures would most certainly be felt someday. McKenzie (p.
68) suggests that scientists have warned that extreme temperatures would cause more deaths in the world and would not spare those from temperate climates. Then there is the issue of noise both from factories as well as the electromagnetic radiations, noise can be a serious health problem as it can cause nuisance as well as impairment of the general well being of a person. Although not all environmental noise does cause deafness, some low electromagnetic radiation can pose health risks to individuals. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (p.
89) opines that exposure to radiation such as ultraviolet rays may cause serious health risks like skin cancers or cataracts. The intensity of ultraviolet rays can some times be increased by the depletion of the ozone layer by such pollutants as chlorofluorocarbons. Another adverse effect of ultraviolet lights that has been said to be indirect is the pollution of the atmosphere through increased ozone (McKenzie, p. 56). While radioactive emissions could be liable for cancer related diseases like leukemia, the natural risks are not more pronounced as the innovations of man.
Most medical procedures involving diagnosis and treatment expose patient to some of these dangers emissions causing cancer related illnesses. Chemical hazards Tobacco and smoking has been cited as the cause of many deaths and health hazards. Smoking largely contributes to lung related diseases like chronic bronchitis as well as heart and blood related problems. Although to a lesser degree, tobacco smoking affects even non-smokers who are passively exposed to the smoke. Other airborne pollutions may be responsible for other health hazards.
Pollution from combustions can have adverse effects on the health of an individual. For example, coal or petroleum combustion is said to produce dangerous substances like PAH, carbon monoxide and even sulphur dioxide. These emissions from such fuels would join with CO2 hence poisoning environment (McKenzie, p. 58). Many deaths have been caused by acute air pollutions; most notable is the case of smogs in 1950s which took place in some bigger cities. Air pollution has been a problem even to some asthmatic individuals who find our cities air conditions unbearable.
Although asthma and other lung related diseases have been associated with high presence of sulphur dioxide and other pollutants in our environment, there is a growing concern with extreme exposures to combustion from diesel and benzene. The exhaust from these fuels has been linked to cancer risks especially to workers at factories who spend most of their time under such pathetic conditions (World Health Organization, para. 23) Incineration may cause some hazardous effects to the population especially if substances that are not supposed to be disposed in this manner are burnt.
The effects would be much worse if the incineration is done in a low temperature area. Other pollutants may be found within our living homes. For example, nitrogen dioxide produced by the gas fires may pose a great health risk to the family, hence respiratory morbidities may be reported in such households. Some modern building materials can produce certain vapors comprising of formaldehyde in low quantities which might lead to respiratory problems to the occupants of such houses.
Fortunately, we can claim that releases from factories in large quantities that may result in acute effects are very isolated, but the small scale occurrence of tanker leaks or pollutions from factories may have adverse effects on an individual exposed to such conditions. Pesticides and other harmful sprays may pose health risks to individual or communities living in areas where such chemicals have been used (World Health Organization, para. 27). Water can prove to health hazardous if not well treated.
The pipe water has been considered by many to be unhealthy; the lead substances that may ware from the pipe into the water have been proven to have some epidemiological effects. The chemicals added to the water can cause adverse effects on health. Chlorination probably has long saved lives but there is a growing concern regarding the chlorination of water. The potential cancer risks although not yet proof, as been linked to chlorination of water. Water may also get termination from such chemical as nitrate from fertilizers which may lead to high risk of ‘blue babies’ especially among bottle fed babies (McKenzie, p.
75) Water contamination may also results from solid wastes due to poor drainage systems. Poor dispositions may leak into water supplies that may pose great health risks to the users. Biological hazards The human health has been threatened for a long time by the microorganisms which cause infections. Microbiological hazards have come in some many ways; through water, foods and other substances used by man. Microorganisms have always found themselves in water causing diseases like cholera, dysentery and typhoid (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, p. 120).
Clinical wastes that have hitherto caused health problems to the medical fraternity, has come up as a major health problem to the general public. Most children would be found playing around with blood stained needles. Conclusion It is clear that environment plays a bigger role n shaping the overall wellbeing of human kind as a species. If the recent reports by WHO which put environmentally related deaths at 30 million annually are anything to go by then it is a challenge to everyone that we care for the environment.
Works Cited: McKenzie, James. An Introduction to Community Health. California: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2007. pp. 34-89 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Environmental Outlook. New York: OECD Publishing, 2001. pp. 50-150 World Health Organization. Public Health and Environment. 2010. Retrieved on May 7, 2010, from http://webcache. googleusercontent. com/search? q=cache:FN0_zjU1UxAJ:www. who. int/peh/+Impact+of+the+Environment+on+our+Health&cd=2&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ke&client=firefox-a