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Environmental Health, Barriers and Nursing Role


Environmental health examines how natural and created environments affect a person’s health. The issues of environmental protection such as prevention of epidemics or adverse impacts of natural disasters are also included in the area of environmental health. As specified by the World Health Organization (2018), “by focusing on reducing environmental and social risk factors, nearly a quarter of the global burden of disease can be prevented” (para. 1). Therefore, it is essential to identify the factors that affect health and determine one’s role in improving the current situation and achieving greater environmental protection with regard to health.

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Environmental Factors Affecting Health

The global changes of the environmental situation are exacerbated by the local transformations related to the climatic and geographical conditions as well as production regions. For example, the incidence of respiratory diseases, malignant diseases, and allergies are much higher in metallurgy centers (Barer, 2017). In the areas, where the water and air pollution exceeds the sanitary maximum, the incidence of bronchitis, asthma, and mental disorders is twice higher compared in rural areas (Barer, 2017). The technological processes increased their emissions, which cause the appearance of various carcinogens, of which many has pathogenic particles.

The impact on one’s well-being is also made by weather conditions. Environmental factors such as changes in atmospheric pressure, air humidity, the electromagnetic field of the planet, precipitation in the form of rain or snow, cyclones, and other similar issues may cause migraine, hypertension, and so on (World Health Organization, 2018).

Caused by environmental pollution, land degradation and desertification occur, soil fertility declines, and the quality of surface, air, and groundwater deteriorate. In this connection, the role of nutrition as an aspect of the environment is also critical. For example, the constant overeating of foods rich in carbohydrates and fats can cause obesity, diabetes, or cardiovascular diseases.

The social environmental factors may be considered important for people’s health since they may impact both physical and psychological health. For example, the neighborhood, availability of healthcare services, relationships with others, public opinion, and many other issues may affect a person’s health. The introduction of certain achievements in scientific and technical progress has brought not only positive results, but also several unfavorable factors: increased levels of radiation, toxic substances, combustible fire-hazardous materials, et cetera.

Nurses’ Role in Eliminating Health Barriers

To eliminate the mentioned environmental barriers and improve a person’s access to health, nurses should act as educators and active advocates. Consistent with Barer (2017), they should explain to patients that the environment is one of the most important factors affecting their health. The evidence-based information should be provided to allow patients to understand specific factors and apply the ways to minimize their negative impact. Group meetings and telehealth may be used as the instruments to equip patients with the most relevant information. In addition, nurses are expected to report any environmental threats so that crisis managers may analyze them.


Environment and health are closely linked with each other, and there are environmental factors that are associated with the climate, technology, society, and so on. The development of long-term state social and economic programs, as well as enhancement of the health literacy of the population, are the ways to resolve the identified health concern. In addition, the rational use of natural resources may significantly improve the environment and preserve it for future generations.

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Barer, M. (2017). Why are some people healthy and others not? New York, NY: Routledge.

World Health Organization. (2018). Public health, environmental and social determinants of health. Web.

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