Health is the general condition of an individual in all aspects. The world health organization defines health as a state of complete mental, physical and social well-being as opposed to the absence of infirmity or disease. Environmental health is one type of the many types of health and that exist. The fundamental aspects of the environment affecting people include the air we breathe, the water we take and our land/soil. Therefore clean air, water and soil that is unpolluted is vital for environmental health. The conservation of natural places, preservation of diversity and creation of space and buildings for people to have a comfortable life is an important element of environmental health (Seedhouse 5).
Environmental health is a branch of public health and it deals with the aspects of the natural and built environment which may affect the health of human beings. The WHO defines environmental health as those aspects of human body and human health that are determined by factors present in the environment. It can also be referred to as the theory or practice of controlling and assessing factors in the environment that can affect health positively or negatively. This broad branch of public health direct pathological effects of substances such as radiation, chemicals and a number of some biological agents and there effect either to the environment or to people.
Environmental health services as described by the World Health Organization (i.e. WHO) is involved in services that help in implementation of environmental health policies which govern all people involved in activities that are related to the environment. Other services offered covers promotion of improved environmental parameters by encouraging people to use environmentally friendly health technologies and behaviors. These functions are carried out by registered environmental health specialists. Environmental health addresses human health related aspects of both built environment as well as the natural environment. They are concerned with the quality of air which also comprises of tobacco smoke, climate change, food safety, climatic change, noise pollution and hazardous materials.
Pollution hinders environmental health and it's defined as the introduction of contaminants into the environment which results in ecosystems disorder, instability and discomfort. Pollution takes several forms which include chemical substances such as noise, heat or light. Pollutants can be foreign substance naturally occurring and they are considered pollutants when they exceed there natural levels. Pollution has been classified into nonpoint source pollution or point source pollution.
Air pollution is the release of particulates and chemicals into the atmosphere and when these gases are inhaled by people may be a health hazards. Common gases which are pollutants include carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide produced by both motor vehicles and industries. Researchers are out to determine whether there is a causal relationship between an environmental exposure and adverse effects on health. It's important for researchers to determine the quantitative measure of the likelihood of an adverse health effect for a given level of exposure (Rom and Markowitz 1749).
Therefore there is the need for researchers to determine the exposure-response relationship for mixed exposures and the existing reactions between these and the other existing risk factors. When this have been accomplished there is need to translate it into health economic terms. For example Asthma which is a condition where one experiences difficulties with breathing. There are genetic factors that cause this disease but still it can develop with time due to exposure to certain environmental factors. Research shows that there has been a marked increase in Asthma cases due to increased exposure to environmental factors causing it. Epidemiologic research reveals that inhaled pollutants can cause asthma in people who did not have the disease and would otherwise have not developed it (Rom and Markowitz 1750).
Water pollution is as a result of released waste products and contaminants into water bodies. The water well assay that was conducted by US geological department reveals that gasoline, paints, plastics, dyes, solvents, insecticides, adhesives etc. contribute to wide ranging health effects. Despite the fact that water comprises 70% of the earth's planet and it's the main source of life water pollution is still rampant in our lakes, rivers and oceans to the extent of causing death to the aqua-life. Humans have not been left out when it comes to effects of water pollution since they use water more than any other existing creatures. Our drinking water has been greatly affected as well as the ability to use water for recreational purposes. Water pollution occurs when water body is adversely affected due to addition of large amounts of materials. And it's considered polluted when it's unfit for use. For instance when farm fertilizer is carried into a stream by rain in form of run off it's considered as nonpoint pollution (Pfafflin and Ziegler 336).
Research reveals that water pollution is caused by elements like sewage and chemicals which contain nutrients such phosphates and nitrates, whose excess is deemed harmful to flora and fauna. When this nutrients are too many in the water bodies they stimulate the growth of algae and other aquatic plants which as a result clog water ways and use up oxygen during decomposition and this in turn blogs light from reaching deeper waters. When this occurs the respiratory ability of the fish and other invertebrates living in water is tampered with resulting to massive death of organisms which inhabit water bodies (Miller and Spoolman, 533).
Other forms of water pollution include; heat, petroleum and radioactive substances. Petroleum pollutes water bodies in form of spilt oil and Exxon Valdez is the perfect example of this form of pollution. The effects of water pollution on human health are immeasurable. Nitrate compounds in water are the main cause of increased incidences of ulcers and tumors in humans. Skin disorders are attributed to contact with pollutants found in water. Polluted water is dangerous to the development of fetus and as a result there is increased deformation in fetus and at times it's the cause of still births occurring in the world.
Research has revealed the presence of dangerous compounds in food for instance eleven years ago Swedish scientists reported finding acryl amide in food. For this reason, our modern scientists are conducting new studies in order to find the extent of genotoxic and carcinogenic chemicals in the population. Policies have been put in place to ensure safe use of pesticides in order to lower the negative effects it is having on population.
There are organization like NIEHS which are committed to protecting and improving global health. These organizations have strong history of international cooperation on environmental health issues with the aim of solving puzzles of environmentally induced human diseases. These institutions carry out research, training, outreach and capacity building. One of the major issues facing the world today is climatic change which has been greatly caused by environmental factors for instance emission of green house gases in the environment. Soil pollution occurs when there are human made chemicals in the soil. Most common chemicals that pollute soil include petroleum hydrocarbons, pesticides and solvent. Therefore it's important to engage in environmental friendly activities and behavior in order to reduce the health risks/harzards associated with our environment (Fitzpatrick and Bonnefoy 96).
- Fitzpatrick, Martin and Bonnefoy, Xavier. Environmental Health services in Europe. Indianapolis, Indiana: WHO Regional Office Europe, 1999.
- Miller, Tyler and Spoolman, Scott. Living in the Environment: principles, Connections and Solutions. Florence, KY: Cengage Learning, 2008.
- Pfafflin, James and Ziegler, Edward. Encyclopedia of Environment Sciences and Engineering. London, UK: CRC Press, 2006.
- Rom, William and Markowitz, Steven. Environmental and Occupational Medicine. Connecticut: Williams & Wilkins Publishers, 2007.
- Seedhouse, David, Health: The Foundations for Achievement. Philadelphia, PA: John Wiley and Sons, 2001.