According to the WHO, 24 and 23 percent of global disease cases and deaths respectively occur as a result of degradation of environmental elements that pose a significant threat to public health worldwide.
Extensive studies on interaction between human health and environment risks have been proven to have significant impact on public health by direct or indirect exposure to harmful agents and disruption of life-sustaining ecosystems. Huge economic development and population growth, intensification of agriculture, increase in industrialization and excess energy usage has resulted in environmental degradation and driven towards public health problems. Major environmental health hazards are associated with severe lack of public infrastructure, widespread poverty, problems with access to drinking water and sanitation, lack of healthcare services and emerging problems of industrial pollution.Global industrialization, urbanization and economic development have led to an increase in waste discharges and energy consumption; water soil and air pollution; greenhouse gas emissions and acid deposition.
Changing lifestyle habits and application of social, legislative, economic and environmental engineering systems can help in health promotion and strengthening environmental systems. Minimizing exposure to environmental risk factors by enhancing air quality, securing adequate supplies of potable water, sanitation and clean energy is associated with significant benefits to human health. Mitigating effects of climatic change, benefits of reduced health symptoms associated with environmental hazards, collaboration between economists and epidemiologists is also of great importance in terms of public health benefits.
Effects on Public Health
Environmental risk due to chemical exposures; air, water and soil pollution; climate change and ultraviolet radiation contribute to different diseases and injuries. WHO estimates high mortality rate per year due to the significant respiratory diseaseand sickness in adults and children caused by air pollution.The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) recently reported problems associated withlack of access to clean drinking water. Polluted water and soil affects marine and plant life consumed by humans which serves as a breeding ground for diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever. Environmental pollutants have various adverse and harmful health effects such as increase in oxidative stress, infant mortality, perinatal disorders, respiratory disorders, allergy, malignancies, cardiovascular disorders, endothelial dysfunction, mental disorders and others. Studies have shown that exposures to environmental particulates are linked to increased risk of morbidity and mortality from organ disturbances, diseases, cancer and other chronic diseases.
As a branch ofpublic health, environmental healthis concerned with all aspects of the factors affectinghuman health, includingenvironmental and occupational medicine,environmental science, toxicologyandepidemiology. Combinational information on epidemiology, toxicology and exposure science can be used to conduct a risk assessmenton chemicals and other risk factors which in turn can help protect human health.
Maintainingenvironmental health, safe and healthycommunities is possible through surveillance systems and public education on the protection of important resources, monitoring hazards, investigation and response delivered for disease treatment. Delivery of services and implementation of environmental health policies through monitoring and control activities play an important role in improving environmental parameters, encouraging the use of environmental friendly behaviour and healthy technologies.Different kinds of interventions and public awareness programmes are promoted based on the strength of the scientific knowledge regarding the magnitude of adverse health effects and impact of environmental pollution on public health. Competent health professionals help in ensuring reduction and prevention of the harmful public health effects due to environmental factors.
Online Course at JLI
James Lind Institute (JLI) provides an online program – Advanced PG Diploma in Environmental Health Management to build a career in environmental sciences.
For more information please visit: www.jliedu.com