Environmental Health, Your Health, and How They Relate

Environmental health is the branch of public health that is concerned with all aspects of the natural and built environment that may affect human health.

An estimated 12.6 million people died as a result of living or working in an unhealthy environment in 2012 – nearly 1 in 4 of total global deaths, according to the latest estimates from WHO. Environmental risk factors, such as air, water and soil pollution, chemical exposures, climate change, and ultraviolet radiation, contribute to more than 100 diseases and injuries. By focusing on reducing environmental and social risk factors, nearly a quarter of the global burden of disease can be prevented. Examples include promoting safe household water storage, better hygiene measures, safer management of toxic substances in the home and workplace. At the same time, actions by sectors such as energy, transport and agriculture are required urgently, in cooperation with the health sector, to address root environmental and social causes of ill-health that lie beyond the direct control of the health sector.

There are hidden dangers in the environment that can affect our health. Find out about environmental health, including man-made and natural risks. When it comes to environmental health, ignorance is definitely NOT bliss!

Over 80% of marine pollution comes from land-based activities. From plastic bags to pesticides – most of the waste we produce on land eventually reaches the oceans …

Air pollution is contamination of the indoor or outdoor environment by any chemical, physical or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere. Household combustion devices, motor vehicles, industrial facilities and forest fires are common sources of air pollution. Pollutants of major public health concern include particulate matter, carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. Outdoor and indoor air pollution cause respiratory and other diseases, which can be fatal.

There are actually SEVEN different kinds of environmental pollution. Most people can name air, water and land…do you know the other four? Or examples of what constitutes actual pollution in each category?

According to the dictionary, air pollution is the contamination of air by smoke and harmful gases, mainly oxides of carbon, sulfur, and nitrogen. (And maybe by that smelly uncle.) S

Land pollution is the degradation of the Earth’s surface caused by a misuse of resources and improper disposal of waste. 

Light pollution is the brightening of the night sky inhibiting the visibility of stars and planets by the use of improper lighting of communities. 

Noise pollution is any loud sounds that are either harmful or annoying to humans and animals. 

Thermal pollution is the increase of temperature caused by human activity. 

These kinds of environmental pollution can cause aquatic life to suffer or die due to the increased temperature, can cause discomfort to communities dealing with higher temperatures, and will affect plant-life in and around the area.

Visual pollution is what you would call anything unattractive or visualing damaging to the nearby landscape. This tends to be a highly subjective topic. 

“When a man throws an empty cigarette package from an automobile, he is liable to a fine of $50. When a man throws a billboard across a view, he is richly rewarded.”

– Pat Brown

The air in Beijing is so polluted that breathing it does as much damage to the lungs as smoking 40 cigarettes a day, says a new study.

A U.S.-based nonprofit group called Berkeley Earth has released a report, based on data collected by a network of sensors across China, that said more than 80 percent of Chinese people are regularly exposed to pollution that far exceeds levels deemed safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In its efforts to combat the problem, the Chinese government has set up a nationwide network of sensors, and regularly publishes data online. The Berkeley Earth researchers used this data for their report, along with data collected by a large international air quality-monitoring organization called AQICN.org.

The researchers found that the data from the sensors painted a more alarming picture of pollution in Chinese air than previous satellite data had suggested. The team published its results in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

The report said air pollution in China kills about 4,000 people every day, about 17 percent of all deaths in China, but noted that connecting mortality to pollution is “complicated.” The researchers adopted the methods for showing such associations from the WHO Global Burden of Disease study.

“When I was last in Beijing, pollution was at the hazardous level; every hour of exposure reduced my life expectancy by 20 minutes,” said Richard Muller, scientific director of Berkeley Earth and one of the paper’s coauthors, in a press release. “It’s as if every man, women and child smoked 1.5 cigarettes each hour.”

Over the last 50 years, there has been a 73% increase in pollution levels from hundreds of cities, in the main stem of the Yangtze River. 

Environmental pollution affects us all. Learn what you can to do minimize your effect on the earth. Reduce pollution whenever you can. Every little bit helps.