Environmental Health and Health Effects of Environmental Change
Posted by Emmywally on June 16th, 2020
The practices of environmental health started a long time ago, when the traditional religions had some provisions on the matters concerning personal hygiene. For example, Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans integrated environmental health in the civilization where they had built bathrooms and latrines for body cleaning and proper disposal of human waste respectively. Modern methods for human waste disposal developed, and environmental health became even incorporated in various world health organizations such as the WHO. Additionally, numerous techniques, in which a person can contribute towards the preservation of environmental health, have been developed. Environmental health is an area of concern as far as human health is concerned. Toxic and hazardous substances, poor sanitation, and poor control of drinking water sources have detrimental effects on environmental health.
Environmental health is a scientific field that studies the influences of environment on the human health as well as different diseases. Under the context of environmental health, the environment covers all things found in the natural environment, and these components include air, water, and soil. Physical, biological, chemical, and social features fall under this category. Thus, environment has various impacts on the well-being of any human. However, the effects may vary, depending on the type environmental health that one is exposed. The paper will primarily focus on the Environmental health in humans. Indeed, environmental health has vast impacts on the human well-being.
During prehistoric and ancient civilizations, the laws contained in holy books such as the Bible and the Quran played a significant role in the health of ancient peoples. Such laws focused mainly on the delivery of personal hygiene. According to these laws, corpses and contaminated surfaces were regarded unclean; therefore, it was not hygienic to lay one’s hand or any other part of the body on them. There was also a strong emphasis on the burying of feces during the ancient times. The practice of body cleansing before prayers aimed at maintaining the hygiene integrity with a religious background. Again, during the times of such civilizations as the Greek, Egyptian, and Roman, the essentiality of sanitation and appropriate hygiene practices were highly stressed. In this period, people strictly followed such practices as the building of private and public bathrooms and latrines, body cleaning, shaving of head, and individual parts in an attempt to prevent lice and other parasites’ infestations, the construction of pipelines and sewage trenches. By this time, people could relate some infections, such as Bilharzia, to swimming and bathing in the River Nile. In this era, the focus was on the personal hygiene and proper human waste control.
In modern times, since the 19th century, some inventions led to even greater understanding of communicable infections. For instance, the linking of cholera to drinking contaminated water and foods led to the subsequent discovery of cholera in 1854 by John Snow. In the same year, Dr. Semmelweis noted the importance of washing hands by doctors before delivering babies. Louis Pasteur predicted the role of microorganisms in diseases. After the European industrial revolution, the improvements in the sanitation, supplies of water as well as housing dramatically decreased the prevalence of communicable diseases. In the 20th and 21st centuries, there has been a vast improvement in environmental health; sanitation has massively improved, and modern methods of disposal of human waste have been introduced. There has been increased awareness and outreaches to educate the public on various practices that promote personal hygiene and aid in the prevention of various diseases. Furthermore, many organizations ranging from the UN-sponsored ones to various NGOs have been formed to counteract environmental health issues. Currently, the issue of environmental health is under the supervision of the World Health Organization. Apart from hygiene and infection, there are other factors of concern in this field, and they include the emerging problems such as global warming as well as the relationship between the environment and medical conditions such as cardiovascular diseases.
Environmental Factors That Impact Health
Various environmental factors impact health, and they include physical, biological, and chemical infrastructure among others.
One of the leading problems in environmental health is lead poisoning because when children are exposed to lead at early ages, it can affect their learning ability, behavioral problems, and lower their IQ as well as cause growth and hearing problems. However, the issue of lead poisoning is preventable as most of it comes from leaded petrol. Most countries have prohibited the use of leaded gasoline in efforts to alleviate the problem. Parents are also encouraged to have their youngsters tested for the presence of lead in their blood, and the only way to achieve this is through taking blood tests.
The other factor of concern is indoor air. Every household must have clean indoor air. Pollutants originating from indoors can trigger asthma and allergic reactions, chemical poisoning, and some cancers. Those who spend a substantial part of their time in the house are at increased risk of indoor poisoning. For example, most people in Missouri spend about 90% of their time in house, and research shows a degree of pollution inside the house being higher than outside, which makes people prone to poisoning from lead-based paints, electrical and fire hazards among others.
Ground and Surface water
The quality of ground and surface water applies to both consumption water and recreational water. Water, contaminated with chemical or infectious agents, can cause mild to severe diseases. Water sources require a higher level of protection as well as the decreased exposure to the polluted water sources. Water protection plays a crucial role in environmental health.
Hazardous Waste and Toxic Entities
The effects of toxic and hazardous substances are poorly understood, but they are thought to play some roles in some types of cancers and some birth defects. There is an ongoing research aimed at determining the effects of these substances. Nevertheless, the efforts to minimize exposure to these elements continue, as it is a fundamental practice in environmental health.
Proper disposal of human is essential to environmental health. Human waste is full of various pathogens, and if disposed of poorly, it can lead to some water-borne diseases outbreaks, such as cholera and typhoid, as is the case in most of developing countries due to the inadequate sanitation systems. Most of these countries practice open defecation, thus increasing the risks of water-borne diseases
One of the contributions an individual can offer in improving environmental health is environment conservation. One can restrict himself from using substances such organophosphates that release gasses such as CO2 and that contribute to global warming considerably that has a drastic effect on environmental health. Going Green is the way as it saves money and protects one’s family from hazardous substances. Planting of several trees is also fundamental. Higher amounts of trees play a significant role in air filtration as they utilize carbon dioxide and release oxygen used by the living organisms. The utilization of carbon dioxide by trees can also minimizes global warming.
Walking and riding a bicycle
Taking short trips or riding a bike to and from work is highly beneficial. It contributes both to one’s health directly and to the preservation of the environment. About 240 calories can be burned in one hour when an individual takes a leisurely bicycle ride and, at the same time, reduces the release of about 1.5 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Another option is carpooling to and from the work, as this will also tremendously decrease the levels of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
Wearing Something Healthier
Researches have shown that using perfluorinated chemicals to avoid the formation of wrinkles on some clothes can have damaging effects on the environs, and it has some health concerns linked to cancer. Therefore, using natural fabrics is considered a greener approach. However, care should be taken, as not all materials are eco-friendly. For instance, growing cotton requires the use of an enormous amount of pesticides.
Choosing Locally Grown or Organic Food
Choosing locally grown or organic food could also be helpful. It is likely that most of the fruits and vegetables are often shipped over hundreds of miles from other countries before they get into the supermarkets, and they may have been picked several weeks before one consumes them. On the other hand, buying fruit or vegetable from the local gardens will give one an opportunity to have them freshly picked. One also has a chance to ask the farmers if they used organic substances, pesticides, or any other chemicals that could cause danger to the earth or one's health.
Environmental health is a field of science concerned with the effect of environment on the human health. The practices of environmental health started a long time ago where the traditional religions had some provisions on the matters concerning personal hygiene. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans were concerned with environmental health as they built bathrooms and latrines for body cleaning and proper disposal of human waste. Environmental health continued to experience some important changes in the 19th century, when some fundamental discoveries on the environmental health were made. Louis Pasteur elucidated the role of microorganism in various infections. In 20th and 21st centuries, environmental health experienced even further advancements and more and more diseases linked to the environment were discovered. Modern methods for human waste disposal developed, and environmental health became even incorporated in various world health organizations such as the WHO. Various factors influence environmental health, and they include sanitation, chemical, toxic and hazardous substances, water, quality indoor and outdoor air. There are also numerous techniques, using which a person can contribute towards the preservation of environmental health. Environmental health is an area of concern as far as human health is concerned. Toxic and hazardous substances, poor sanitation, poor control of drinking water sources have detrimental effects on environmental health.
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