The recent pandemic has shown the vulnerability of our public health systems. There is a strong need to build resilience against such emergencies in the future. Governments and societies are increasingly striving to improve those aspects of human health and well-being that are determined by environmental factors. Limiting people’s exposure to hazardous physical, chemical and biological agents in air, water, soil, food and other environmental media will reduce their susceptibility to future pandemics, improve their health and boost public health systems.
Environmental challenges negatively affect the health of individuals and communities, especially vulnerable groups such as the elderly, economically weak, pregnant women and children. Medical conditions such as malignant growth, asthma, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease and many more are directly linked to increased levels of pollution and water contamination. If the various environmental problems affecting health are adequately addressed, it can improve health and protect life from the harmful toxic effects of pollutants.
Here are some of the specific environmental factors that can adversely affect human health and well-being.
Air pollution is caused by hazardous solid or liquid particles and certain gases that remain suspended in the air. These particles and gases can come from car and truck exhaust, factories, dust, pollen, mold spores, volcanoes and forest fires, etc.
When a person is exposed to high levels of air pollution, it can lead to various harmful health issues. It massively increases the risk of asthma and other respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases and even lung cancer. A more serious impact is on people who already suffer from a pre-existing disease, pregnant women, infants and children, the elderly and economically weak. The most toxic pollutants that cause serious illness and premature death are the fine PM2.5 particles that penetrate deep into the lungs.
Water is life. It is one of the most important natural resources on which all living things depend. Water pollution is the contamination of water sources with substances that render water unusable for drinking, cooking, farming, cleaning, swimming and other activities. Pollutants include chemicals, plastics, garbage, bacteria and parasites, etc. The main sources of water pollution are the discharge of toxic domestic, industrial and agricultural waste directly into waterways, population growth, excessive use of insecticides, pesticides, fertilizers and urbanization. . The oceans are indiscriminately polluted with plastic waste, which causes harmful effects on marine life indirectly affecting humans, leading to diseases like cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid, etc.
Exposure to harmful environmental chemicals like mercury, lead, asbestos, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, etc., both indoors and outdoors, can have many effects adverse health effects, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, allergies and cancers.
Global environmental issues
Global environmental issues such as global warming, pollution, forest fires, poor waste management systems, worsening biodiversity, increasing population, green gas emissions causing depletion of the ozone layer, etc., cause more than 12.6 million deaths every year, according to the WHO.
Diseases caused by germs
Illnesses like influenza, measles, typhoid, diarrhea and cholera are caused by germs. Pathogenic bacteria cause diseases such as plague, tuberculosis, and anthrax while protozoan parasites cause diseases such as malaria, sleeping sickness, dysentery, etc.
Eating is one of the ways people can get infections from organisms. One such example is contamination of food with E. coli, a type of microbe that can cause respiratory disease, urinary disease, and other adverse health effects.
Lack of access to health care
Patients who are physically unable to drive, are financially weak, or otherwise cannot be transported to a doctor or hospital are often denied care. Lack of education or knowledge about various ailments can also lead to premature suffering or even death. Inadequate health insurance coverage is also a problem. Not all are able to insure themselves and are therefore deprived of appropriate medical care.
A good sanitary infrastructure is essential for human well-being. It includes advanced hospitals equipped with latest technology, machinery, specialist doctors, nurses and other allied health professionals and developed pharmaceutical industries, etc. Poor infrastructure usually leads to poor quality of service, which in turn not only wastes resources but is positively hazardous to health. and the well-being of patients and the community as a whole.
Climate change and natural disasters
Climate change has many impacts on human health, including causing death and illness from increasingly frequent extreme weather events, such as heat waves, storms, hurricanes, typhoons, wildfires forest loss, landslides, droughts and floods, disruption of food systems, increase in water and vector-borne diseases, mental health issues and more. Natural disasters also disrupt the economic well-being of societies in addition to affecting the health of life on Earth.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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