Environmental health has never been more important, which is why we’d want to look at the top 10 importance of environmental health.
The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed lives and wreaked havoc on economies all across the world. It has altered our lifestyles and habits, while also putting our public health systems to the test and affecting our livelihoods, reminding us of the fragile relationship we have with our planet.
A healthier environment could prevent about a quarter of the world’s illness burden. Clean air, a stable climate, sufficient water, sanitation and hygiene, chemical safety, radiation protection, healthy and safe workplaces, sound agricultural practices, health-supportive cities and built environments, and a maintained natural environment are all necessary for good health.
Modifiable environmental dangers caused 13.7 million fatalities per year in 2016, accounting for 24% of all deaths worldwide. This means that about one-quarter of all deaths worldwide are caused by environmental factors.
Because there are so many disease agents and exposure pathways, as well as so many hazardous environmental circumstances, most disease and injury categories are affected. The most common illness outcomes are non-communicable diseases, such as ischemic heart disease, chronic respiratory diseases, and cancer. Injury, respiratory infections, and stroke are all on the rise.
Pollutants in the environment can cause health issues such as respiratory disorders, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. Low-income people are more likely to live in polluted locations with contaminated drinking water.
Furthermore, children and pregnant women are more vulnerable to pollution-related health issues. To determine where and how people are exposed to environmental toxins, it is necessary to track them. Many major health problems and deaths can be avoided by enacting laws and policies to decrease certain types of pollution.
The World Health Organization’s activities have included:
- Providing leadership in guiding important transitions, such as in energy and transportation, and stimulating good governance in health and the environment;
- Ensuring knowledge generation and dissemination for evidence-based norms and efficient solutions, steering research, and monitoring change in health and impoverishment risks;
- Assisting countries in developing capacity and processes for scaling up action,
- Enhancing emergency preparedness and response in the event of environmental incidents, as well as providing associated recommendations on environmental health services and occupational health and safety.
For optimum health, we need environments that are safe, healthy, and supportive. The environment in which we live has a significant impact on our health and happiness. We rely on the environment for energy and minerals to stay alive. Our health is influenced by many facets of our surroundings, both built and natural. We must consider health issues in the context of our surroundings and where we live.
Knowing the vitality of environmental health, let’s know what environmental health is before we can look at the 10 importance of environmental health.
What is Environmental Health?
Environmental Health (EH) is a subset of public health that deals with all components of the natural and built environment that may have an impact on human health. Environmental public health and environmental health and protection are two other terms for the discipline of environmental health.
The World Health Organization defines environmental health as characteristics of human health and disease that are influenced by environmental variables. Environmental health also refers to the evaluation and management of environmental elements that may hurt one’s health.
Our health and well-being can be influenced by the environment both directly and indirectly. Environmental health is the study of how the environment affects our health.
Environmental health is the science and practice of preventing human injury and illness while also promoting well-being by:
- identifying and evaluating environmental sources and hazardous agents;
- limiting exposures to hazardous physical, chemical, and biological agents in air, water, soil, food, and other environmental media or settings that may harm human health.
The direct pathogenic effects of chemicals, radiation, and some biological agents in dwellings, in urban, agricultural, or natural environments, as well as their indirect effects on well-being, are the focus of environmental health. It ties together social and cultural factors, as well as genetic factors.
Environmental Health (EH) is a branch of research that investigates how the environment affects human health and disease. In this context, “environment” refers to identifying and addressing how the environment affects human health.
Environmental Health is a broad field in which experts do research, investigations, outreach and education, environmental cleanups, and other activities. This field combines elements from a variety of disciplines, including:
- Environmental, occupational, and food toxicology;
- Environmental and occupational medicine;
- Food safety;
- Occupational health and safety;
- Industrial hygiene;
- Public health;
- Environmental policy and law;
- Psychology and sociology.
Components of Environmental Health
Several environmental health issues can harm our health. The five essential health concerns listed below are critical to sustaining human life and creating healthier ecosystems.
- Sanitation and Water
- Radiation and Chemicals
- Air Pollution
- Natural and Built Ecosystems
- Climate Change
1. Sanitation and Water
Approximately 784 million people are without access to clean drinking water. Humans’ lack of access to potable water is a major health issue, and it can have a severe impact on the ecosystem when individuals take drastic measures to secure a water supply.
2. Radiation and Chemicals
Toxic gases, toxins, and radiation can be found everywhere. Nonetheless, they have the potential to harm both human and environmental health. Farmworkers and their families, for example, are exposed to pesticide-induced diseases such as asthma and cancer. Exposure to agricultural pesticides increases brain cancer risk by up to 20%, according to a review of over 40 years of epidemiologic data.
3. Air Pollution
- Power plants and industries
- The burning of fossil fuels
- Industrial waste
- Natural disasters such as volcano eruptions and wildfires.
Industrial facilities and billions of automobiles are just two of the factors contributing to the planet’s deteriorating air quality. About 85% of US energy originates from the industrial combustion of fossil fuels, which accounts for half of all pollution in the country.
4. Natural and Built Ecosystems
Human health and safety are heavily reliant on a healthy and safe shelter, especially in terms of indoor air quality. However, too many developed developments might hurt the ecosystem. Unnecessary waste is generated by a poorly designed built environment. It also uses an inordinate amount of water and electricity.
5. Climate Change
Climate change is the main threat to humanity in the 21st century, disrupting the natural world in a variety of harmful ways. Natural calamities are included in this category as well. Climate change is becoming increasingly dangerous. Climate change and increasingly intense weather, according to the World Meteorological Organization, have increased the number of disasters has increased by a factor of five over the 50 years.
How to Improve Environmental Health
Source: Everyday Health
Water pollution, air pollution, and numerous natural calamities all pose major health risks and must be addressed. The following are some of the ways we can contribute to environmental health:
- Afforestation: Planting trees and developing forests help to restore our ecology to balance. The imbalance is caused by urbanization-related deforestation.
- Use plastic utensils and paper plates sparingly.
- Conserve energy: Because resources are rapidly disappearing, there is a pressing need to conserve energy and consequently resources.
- Reuse rather than throw away
- Every day, tens of thousands of gallons of water are wasted owing to a variety of factors; leaks, in particular, cause significant water loss. It is necessary to exercise caution when it comes to the efficient use of water.
- Rainwater collecting should be widely used.
- Switching off and unplugging electrical appliances when not in use can save a lot of electricity. • Temperature fluctuations are caused by climate change as a result of many human activities. As a result of the melting of ice caps, it hurts everyday life by causing natural disasters.
- Why Choosing convenient modes of transportation reduces air pollution significantly.
- Excessive pesticide application might deplete the soil’s fertility.
- Maintaining personal hygiene and guaranteeing the well-being of the environment is equally important since they contribute to environmental wellness and significantly reduce the risk of diseases and their reproduction in clean environments.
10 Importance of Environmental Health
Every day, we hear about environmental threats. Whether it’s the effects of climate change, deforestation, or pollution, the news cycle is filled with apocalyptic-sounding events. It might be overwhelming and difficult to figure out what it all means. Every aspect of existence is influenced by the environment, which includes everything from the ocean to the forests. The following are 10 importance of environmental health.
1. Improves the Quality and Length of Life.
One of the 10 importance of environmental health is that it improves the quality and length of life. You may not consider how the environment influences people’s lives and careers if you work in an office atmosphere. However, the environment is vital to billions of people. Take, for example, woods. Forests provide food, shelter, medicine, and other benefits to about 1.5 billion people.
Many people turn to the woods when their crops fail. Agriculture provides a living for 2 billion people (almost 27% of the world’s population). Another 3 billion people rely on the ocean for their survival. Environmental protection could result in the creation of millions of new jobs and the reduction of poverty.
According to a report by the International Labour Organization, transitioning to greener economies might result in the creation of 24 million additional employment by 2030. Many people believe that transitioning to green energy and more sustainable practices will result in more people falling into poverty, yet if green jobs replace traditional jobs, the opposite is true. This shows that it is no overstatement for improvement in the quality and length of life is one of the 10 importance of environmental health.
When all of the basic requirements for human life, such as food and shelter, are met and maintained, life expectancy and quality improve. The impact of environmental quality on life expectancy in 24 African countries was investigated in one study. The study discovered that increasing the environmental performance index (EPI) and ecosystem vitality (EV) boosted the life expectancy of Africans by 0.137 and 0.1417 years, respectively.
2. Increases Biodiversity and Protects Habitats
One of the 10 importance of environmental health is that it increases biodiversity and protects habitats. More than 20 species were declared extinct in the United States in the year 2021 alone, according to US officials. Biodiversity is essential for the survival of our ecosystems and animal kingdoms. We can better safeguard the organisms and plants around us by raising environmental health awareness.
3. Diverse Environments strengthen Food Security
Strengthening food security is one of the 10 importance of environmental health. The loss of biodiversity has several negative repercussions, one of which is diminished food security. The world’s remaining animal and plant species are becoming increasingly vulnerable to disease and pests as a result of the loss of species. As a result, our diets become less healthful, increasing the risk of diet-related disorders such as heart disease and diabetes. Protecting natural areas such as woods and oceans guarantees that there is enough nourishment for all living things.
4. Disease Risk is Reduced.
Reduction in disease risk is one of the 10 importance of environmental health. We’ve seen the devastating effects that hazardous microorganisms and infections (such as the coronavirus pandemic) can have in the last two years. Environmental health awareness can help to avoid disease outbreaks and lessen the illness burden.
Diseases spread when people encroach on the territory of other animal species. Animals are responsible for over 60% of human infections. Covid-19 is most likely a zoonotic disease (albeit we don’t know which animal it came from), just as diseases like bird and swine flu do. The Bubonic Plague, which wiped out a third of Europe, was caused by bacteria spread by rats and transported by fleas. Providing proper space between us and animals promotes our health.
5. Trees clean the Air
One of the 10 importance of environmental health is that it improves the air quality through the presence of trees.. Air pollution is a big problem in our society. 9 out of 10 people breathe polluted air, which influences their health and lifetime. Developmental delays, behavioral issues, and diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are all possible side effects. Polluted air causes the deaths of 7 million people per year. Trees are very good at filtering pollution. They remove nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide from the air while also releasing oxygen.
6. Children are killed by Unhealthy Environments.
Elimination of child death through an unhealthy environment is one of the 10 importance of environmental health. Every year, environmental factors cause a large number of babies and young mortality. There is a dearth of clean water and clean air, among other issues. Each year, around 1.4 million children die as a result of waterborne illnesses. Healthy conditions and basic rights such as clean air and water are required to save children’s lives.
7. The Environment is a Source of Medication.
Our environment, the source of our medication is one of the 10 importance of environmental health. The great majority of medicines have their roots in nature. Chemicals from the Pacific yew tree, for example, were used to develop two chemotherapeutic medicines. Scientists and pharmaceutical corporations are always looking for new and better medications in the environment. Unfortunately, around 15,000 medicinal plant species are on the verge of extinction, and if they do, mankind will lose access to potentially life-saving medicines.
8. Being in Nature improves Mental Health
Surely nature improves our mental health, that is what makes it one of the 10 importance of environmental health. Mental health is a complicated subject. It’s the effect of genetics, lifestyle, relationships, and the environment, among other things. For years, scientists have examined the impact of nature and green spaces on mental health. Several studies have found a significant benefit.
Green spaces near schools promote cognitive development and better self-control in children, according to a review published in Current Directions in Psychological Science in 2019. Another study published in Science Advances discovered that being in nature is linked to increased pleasure, well-being, and a sense of purpose.
9. Keep Global Warming to a Minimum.
One of the 10 importance of environmental health is that it helps keep global warming at a minimum. We will not be able to avoid the gradual rise in global temperatures. However, there are particular steps we may take to slow things down and discover solutions. Climate change is caused by humans. The authors of the IPCC’s sixth assessment concluded that the recent decade was the hottest in human history and that individual weather occurrences can now be linked to human-caused climate change.
The environmental impact of climate change is difficult to overstate. Plants, animals, and humans are all threatened by diseases, droughts, and severe weather occurrences, among other things. The environment will become uninhabitable if fossil fuel emissions are not decreased promptly.
Almost all of the rise in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere over the last 150 years has been caused by human activities. More than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions in the contemporary era can be traced back to only 20 fossil fuel companies. Organizations may dramatically improve environmental health and lessen their impact on global warming by lowering industrial emissions and waste.
10. Caring for the Environment saves the Planet
In the end, our planet will be saved, this is one of the importance of environmental health. In the face of environmental tragedies and climate change, it’s difficult not to feel despondent. However, we cannot afford to be hopeless, and numerous answers may be implemented now. It will make a difference to protect plant and animal species, conserve healthy green spaces, and reducing emissions. By taking care of the environment, humans can conserve the earth for future generations.
In conclusion, through the 10 importance of environmental health we discussed, we can find that environmental health is no joke, it should be taken very seriously as it affects all facets of our lives. It’s left for you and me to make necessary efforts to improve our environmental health.
10 Importance of Environmental Health – FAQs
Why is Environmental Health Important?
Any complete public health system must include environmental health. To protect people and provide communities with better surroundings, the field seeks to improve policies and programs that decrease chemical and other environmental exposures in air, water, soil, and food.
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A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo to educate the public on the environment and her concerns.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.