Many factors in our environment can have a major effect on our overall health. From hazardous substances which can be found in the air to water and soil which can originate from a variety of sources such as industrial and agricultural activities. Health experts work with government agencies, communities, industries and individuals to reduce or eliminate the substances in our environment which can be harmful to our health.
The environment can have harmful effects on our health directly or indirectly by disrupting our ecosystems. The World Health Organization estimated that each year 13 million people die due to environmental causes. The report also suggests that 24% of the global disease burden and 23% of all premature deaths can be attributed to environmental factors. The environmental burden of diseases is 15 times higher in developing countries than in the developed world. The main reason behind this is exposure to environmental risks and access to health care.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services evaluated all potentially hazardous substances and determined their impact on our overall health. Health experts in each area often provide the community with the information on exposure to hazardous substances which are most common in that area, and they provide the public with tips on how to reduce the exposure until the risk is eliminated.
In some communities, the negative impact on the environment is more obvious, for example air pollution, while in others the impact is less visible such as the use of toxic chemicals which are found in many consumer products that we use in our daily lives. We all want to live in an environment free of any health-harming chemicals that can be present in the air, soil, water or food.
What are the most dangerous substances found in the environment? One of the most hazardous substances is lead. Lead poisoning is the most common and preventable health problem. Lead exposure in children can lead to learning and behavioral problems, it can interfere with hearing and growth and it can have a great effect on a child’s IQ.
Another unfortunately common issue is indoor air. Clean air (indoor and outdoor) is vital for our good health. Especially indoor air can lead to allergic reactions, asthma, some types of cancers and chemical poisoning. The quality of indoor air can be a major concern especially if we spend too much time indoors. Researchers suggest that air pollution levels are higher indoors than they are outdoors.
On the list of hazardous substances is radon. The odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that poses a health risk to humans when found inside homes or other buildings. Exposure to radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. You can test your home of radon and take steps to reduce the level of radon in indoor air.
A sewage system which is not operating correctly can create a health risk to a wider population affecting water and soil. In many states, a permit to construct a sewage system must be obtained by the state Department of Health and Senior Services and the local health department. Environmental challenges and effects on public health is present in both, the developed and developing world. In the developing world, every minute, five children die from diarrhea and malaria. Every hour, 100 children die due to exposure to indoor smoke from solid fuels. Every day, almost 1,800 people die as a result of exposure to air pollution. Also, every month, 19,000 people die from unintentional poisonings. The stats above are applicable for the developing world, however, the developed countries are struggling with effects of the environment on the public health as well.
The negative effects of the environment on our overall health has been studied extensively.
How Health May be Affected by Our Environment? It can have a positive effect as well. We need a world with a clean environment that allows us to live and enjoy long and healthy lives.