When faces with longevity concerns of the earth, the study of environmental health provides insight into the interactions between the environment and man-made hazards and vulnerabilities and the steps or processes that are taken to help insulate humans and the environment from that impact of these hazards. These studies include how humans and wildlife are impacted by the chemical made by humans or how the ecosystem affects the spread of disease or illness. Environmental health is an intricate and complex healthcare system that intertwines human and environmental factors for the most comprehensive view of how life is impacted on earth. Although the focus of the studies is beneficial to protecting human health, as identifying impacting factors provides systems of control over the factors, the environment equally benefits from more informed and green-focused practices.
Assessing the Risks
When you consider the environmental health of a community or an individual, the primary areas of focus is how the emotional, physical, and mental health of an individual or group of individuals at large are affected by external elements within the environment. Researchers will do assessments that look into childhood morbidity, epidemic or pandemic concerns, preventative healthcare concerns, and mental health crises. It isn’t just about the welfare of the physical body, either. Studies in environmental health can also look into areas of transportation, housing, and resource management. There are numerous areas of overlap between the economy, communities, and environmental factors that impact a person’s state of health. There are numerous hazards encountered every single day, and these can be divided into four categories.
1. Biological Hazards
The natural environment released many natural and synthesized organisms that interact with each other and human life. Biological hazards that may infringe upon a healthy state of being include fungi, bacteria, spores, viruses, pathogenic micro-organisms, malaria, tuberculosis, and other diseases. Two or more microorganisms can transmit pathogens and diseases that turn into infectious diseases. The human body is susceptible to an invasion from these pathogens, with some people groups more exposed to damaging organisms than others. Third world countries with less access to education about sanitation and hygiene practices, as well as sexual protection, deal with problems of AIDS, Ebola, and tuberculosis more than the Western world. The biological hazards require both research and resources to combat and reduce the threat.
2. Chemical Hazards
There are two types of chemical hazards that occur in the eco-system. These are natural or man-made. The chemicals or chemical hazards found natural in the environment are lead and mercury. These are heavy metals that can poison the body with too much ingestion or exposure over time. Man-made chemicals pose a significant hazard as well, and perhaps with more severity than those of natural chemical hazards. Humanity’s use of disinfectants, plastics, and pesticides creates a lot of air pollution as well as ground contamination, through the debris that is buried in landfills rather than recycled. There are also a few elements that can be a threat to human life, such as foods that create allergic reactions in individuals.
3. Physical Hazards
In addition to worrying about the impact of biological and chemical hazards on the body, human life must also be concerned with the physical hazards of the environment. There are natural physical processes that cause disaster within a certain area or environment that has long-term effects on the surrounding communities and lives. Things like earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, and tornadoes are just a few of the potentially high-risk situations impacting humanity. In some areas, drought and accessibility to sustainable water sources create hazards for entire communities. Through the work of research and development, ideas like the Cadiz Water Project can provide some relief from the threat, but this project covers a community in Southern California. There are millions of individuals around the world facing water shortages on a daily basis. There are also secret hazards that affect humanity, such as exposure to UV radiation and the increased risk of developing skin cancers or cataracts.
4. Cultural Hazards
The study of environmental health also takes into account social hazards. These risks or exposures are related to the personal choices made by an individual, including occupational status, behavior choices, geographic location, and socioeconomic status. While it could also be considered a chemical hazard due to the toxins and cancer potential from the nicotine, smoking cigarettes is a personal decision that impacts human health. This is a behavior choice, although the effects can mimic toxic buildup such as found in chemical exposure. Your neighborhood’s crime rate, your diet, and your spending habits all contribute to your health and the state of the ecological system that surrounds you.
The study of environmental health is crucial to the health of your physical body as well as that of the environment around you on both macro and micro levels. Your choices will impact the environment, in turn, having a reciprocal effect on your lifestyle.