More than just proper diet and regular exercise, other factors can greatly affect our health. From the condition and quality of the air that we breathe to soil erosion, there is a wide range of external elements that can put our physical and mental health at risk.
Environment health professionals and specialists have examined and continue to study the human-environment interaction. They chronicle and record the different ways these interactions impact a person’s health, including vulnerability to diseases, physical fitness, and other aspects of human health.
How does the environment impact our health?
The COVID-19 pandemic made us all realize how important a healthy environment is. The transmission rate of the virus is quite high as it can be caught through droplets or aerosols from a person who talks, coughs, or sneezes. Experts believe that it can also be contracted when you touch infected surfaces and bring your hands to your mouth, nose, or eyes.
For this reason, environmental health awareness has been boosted over the past year. Keeping a healthy environment helps lengthen our lives and enhance our living conditions. The sobering reality is that roughly 23% of deaths (26% of which involve children 5 years old and below) are caused by environmental problems that could have been prevented.
What are the environmental factors that affect us?
Environmental health is one of the top priorities in public health. Here are some specific issues that can have adverse effects on the human body.
Air pollution does not just negatively affect a person’s health but is also one of the greatest contributors to climate change which makes it a top global health concern. According to the World Health Organization, air pollution causes:
- 24% of deaths related to stroke;
- 26% of deaths connected with lung disease; and
- 17% of deaths and diseases caused by an acute lower respiratory infection on a global scale
Chemicals affect our bodies in different ways. It depends on how toxic its makeup is. But more often than not, exposure or direct contact with any foreign and dangerous substance compromises one’s health and leaves one vulnerable.
The WHO claims that exposure to select toxic chemicals caused over 1.6 million deaths worldwide in 2016 alone.
Although the human body contains trillions of microorganisms, they can also be found in our surroundings. Microbes aren’t really a big threat as some actually have important roles in our bodies but certain harmful microbes known as pathogens and germs can cause illnesses in humans.
Natural Disasters and Climate Change
Climate change is a serious environmental issue that has increased the occurrence of natural disasters all over the world. Things like superstorms, wildfires, and floods are just some of the effects of climate change. If only people became more proactive in taking care of the environment, we would not be faced with the 21st Century’s greatest health threat.
Things such as hydroseeding to prevent erosion, stopping illegal logging, or even just simple things like segregating trash can already go a long way in protecting the environment and preventing climate change from getting worse.
Infrastructures, believe it or not, can also pose a threat to public health and safety. Infrastructure issues such as poor roads can lead to more vehicular accidents that could injure or kill people. The lack of health care institutions can also lead to a community’s health deterioration. Even the lack of access to clean water has grave effects on human health.
Global Environmental Issues
Different environmental issues all over the world cause more than 12. 6 million deaths annually. On top of the concerns on this list, it also includes UV radiation, and water and soil pollution. Health risks and vulnerabilities are the obvious results of these environmental issues, especially in poorer communities.
Subpar Water Quality
More than 780 million people around the world do not have any access to clean drinking water and more than 2 billion people lack access to proper sanitation. Because of this, more than 2,200 children die daily because of poor water quality.
Limited Access to Quality Healthcare
One of the things that can positively or negatively affect a community’s health is access to quality public health care. Without sufficient access to quality health care services, especially in far-flung and remote areas, the community is at a higher risk of contracting serious diseases, like COVID, or chronic illnesses, like asthma.
Making environmental health protection one of our priorities can help not just keep us from sicknesses and diseases but ultimately, preserve the human race in the long run. If we want to turn over a better world to the next generation, we should all work hard for an environment with optimal health.