Would you call the environment we live in today’s era healthy? Analyzing the situation superficially and recalling the number of times we have felt sick will contribute to a definitive answer. The environment we live in directly impacts our health and wellbeing.
Environmental health entails examining the effects of human-made chemicals and materials, disposal of waste materials, and their contribution to the increase in diseases and infections. Our environment and health share a link that one cannot sever. From the air we breathe to the edibles we consume, everything impacts our body functions and immunity. Debilitating heat waves to mosquito-borne diseases pose a greater risk to our health. It explains why every year, 12 million people die worldwide because of living or working in an unhealthy environment.
This article highlights the five environmental health problems posing a worrying threat to public health.
The air in our surroundings has many hazardous particles and gases that can cause health issues if inhaled in huge quantities. The burning of fuel and carbon emission in the air has increased the pollutants in the air. Industries and other manufacturing companies use high-grade intense chemicals and hazardous materials. The smoke diffused by factories in the air adds more harmful gases and components, affecting the air quality. Pollution has always been a public health concern. It is a root for many diseases affecting humans and animals alike. Therefore, to tackle this grave environmental concern, nations are forming alliances to mitigate their causes. Additionally, healthcare professionals or policymakers with an online MPH degree can analyze the effect of pollutants on public health. They can develop strategies to control the rise of diseases resulting from pollution and reduce air pollution levels.
Air pollution alone results in 8.79 million death every year, according to PNAS. It affects people stricken by poverty more as they do not have proper access to healthcare facilities. The degenerating condition of the ozone layer and the accumulation of many pollutants in the air have impacted the air quality, resulting in more premature deaths every year.
Mosquitos are the apex predators of humanity. These seemingly tiny creatures pose a grave threat to the lives of millions of people. Mosquitos reside in a stagnant pool of waters or any other untidy place that can be a hotspot for their reproduction. With greenhouse effects warming up the planet, mosquitoes move to warmer territories, infecting people with diseases like malaria, dengue, and zika. Mosquito-borne diseases account for 2.7 million annual deaths globally, according to WHO. Experts believe that half of the global population will be at greater risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases by 2050.
Countries and activists are continuously fighting for the sustainability of our planet. Our ecosystem thrives on biodiversity, and climate change has affected various species of flora and fauna beneficial for the ecosystem. The constant burning of fuel, emission of chemicals, and smoke from industries have damaged the ozone layer, further aggravating climate change. One of the concerning environmental problems resulting due to climate change is heat waves and melting ice caps. These heat waves appear suddenly, affecting millions of people living in hot regions.
Similarly, in colder areas, they are adversely affecting the weather and wildlife. The greenhouse gas emissions have warmed up the earth paving the way for intense heat waves every year.
Because of the breakthrough invention of Leo Baekeland, plastic mass production began with the creation of Bakelite. Most of the plastic that we see around is for one-time use, and not most of it can be recycled. With less plastic recycling, the disposal of plastic has resulted in plastic contamination in the environment affecting many species. Plastic waste mostly ends up in landfills and contaminates the marine environment at large. Aquatic animals are prone to consuming microplastic. People who eat seafood may also consume microplastic absorbed by the marine animals. The estimated average human consumption of microplastic is about 70,000 and can cause inflammation throughout the body. These plastics also contain carcinogens which can result in the development of cancer in the body.
The increasing human population has also resulted in increased demands for food supplies and accommodation. Deforestation is the outcome of wood harvesting, human activities, urban planning, etc. For instance, many forests that once existed are no longer there because they have been cut off to make room for more buildings. Forests are habitats of diverse plants and animals, and deforestation has resulted in various environmental health issues. For instance, many animal species and microorganisms are facing extinction because of deforestation. Deforestations have reduced the oxygen in the air and increased the greenhouse emission at an alarming rate. With fewer trees in our surroundings, we are getting irregular rains and more heatwaves.
For humans to live a healthy life, it is essential to maintain a clean and green environment. Therefore, it is vital to control the factors causing harmful effects on our environment to remain healthy. Recycling plastic waste and managing waste disposal from industries can significantly reduce the environmental health threats we face today. Spreading community awareness to the local public can also help in reducing these health problems and improving the living conditions for many people.