Such an area of study as environmental health is becoming increasingly more important these days as discoveries about the influence of the environment on human health are made. This paper explores the concept of environmental health and the issues related to its use. On the whole, a detailed explanation of the term “environmental health” is provided, a synopsis of the pertinent information on the topic is proposed, and environmental factors affecting health are discussed. Also, several steps that the author can make to assist with addressing the issue of climatic changes are described. The conclusions made as a result of the current work are also supplied.
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Environmental health is an area of study that is becoming more and more important nowadays. It encompasses a wide variety of issues and problems about the impact of the environment on human health. The current paper explores the said area of study in greater detail. A synopsis of pertinent information related to environmental health is provided; environmental factors that might adversely influence the health of individuals are discussed, and the steps that I might take in the future to improve the situation related to certain environmental barriers to health are considered.
Generally speaking, environmental health is an area of study that might be viewed as a discipline of public health, and which involves estimating and controlling the factors that are external to an individual and may have an impact on their health (National Environmental Health Association [NEHA], n.d.). It should be noted that environmental health pertains to both built and natural types of environment and involves taking steps aimed at identifying factors that may cause disease and addressing these factors to minimize or eliminate their potential adverse influence on the health (NEHA, n.d.). It is also important to observe that the discipline of environmental health is intertwined with that of environmental protection; the latter is aimed at preserving the natural environment to avoid negative impacts on both the health of humans, on the one hand, and the local and global ecosystems of the planet, on the other.
It is paramount to stress that the discipline of environmental health encompasses both the theoretical and practical aspects of identifying and managing factors which might have an adverse influence on the human health (NEHA, n.d.). Therefore, it includes both the theoretical discourse aimed at identifying and averting disease, and the practical methods for creating environments that are beneficial for human health (Rooney, Boyles, Wolfe, Bucher, & Thayer, 2014). It should also be pointed out that environmental health includes several branches, such as environmental epidemiology, environmental engineering, environmental law, toxicology, and so on (Frumkin, 2016). All the said areas of study provide a wide array of contributions that allow for better understanding of how the environment may affect humans and their health, as well as for developing and implementing methods that might permit preserving beneficent environments and avoiding causing changes in the environment that may harm the human health.
Environmental Factors That Impact Health
There exists a wide variety of factors that may affect the health of individuals. For instance, the quality of air is one such factor (Frumkin, 2016). Generally speaking, it should be observed that the quality of air both indoors and outdoors is of paramount importance for human health (Battersby, 2016). Outdoors, the air quality is impacted by a multitude of factors, including the number of vehicles in a city or town, the number of trees and other plants in that city, the presence of green wedges, the climatic conditions, and so on; at the same time, indoor air quality is dependent upon the building materials employed in the construction, smoking tobacco indoors, the level to which the premises are cluttered, etc. Another aspect that impacts the health of individuals is the level of noise (Frumkin, 2016). For instance, constant and persistent noise pollution may adversely influence the health of individuals, so it is paramount to reduce this pollution by e.g. using soundproof materials, acoustic panels, etc.
Access to safe drinking water is also an issue that is one of the concerns of the discipline of environmental health (Battersby, 2016). Although in highly urbanized areas, tap water is often provided for the population, and it may meet the local safety standards, in certain areas, the access to the drinking water of appropriate quality is rather limited. Yet another factor about the discipline of environmental health is that of occupational health and safety (Frumkin, 2016). It involves the creation and maintenance of working conditions and workplaces that are safe for individuals working there. For instance, occupational safety is concerned with the creation of standards of workload, the implementation of protective measures aimed at preventing or reducing injury at the workplace (e.g., trauma resulting from accidents with machinery), the development of safety protocols, the use of ergonomic designs, etc. (Frumkin, 2016).
Also, the issue of climate change plays a pivotal role in the discipline of environmental health (Watts et al., 2015). The changes in the climate may lead to highly adverse consequences for the health of individuals (Watts et al., 2015). For example, they may cause natural disasters such as floods or droughts, periods of severe heat, and so on (Watts et al., 2015). Severe climatic changes may lead to changes in the local flora and fauna, which means that invasive species may breach and negatively impact the local ecosystems, etc.
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On the whole, it should be stressed that a wide array of environmental factors might influence the health of individuals, and all these may be considered areas of interest for such a discipline as environmental health.
My Role in Improving / Eliminating Environmental Barriers to Health
Generally speaking, there exist several areas in which I might take steps aimed at improving the situation to reduce or eliminate environmental issues that might have an adverse influence on human health. For instance, one such area is that of climate change. To contribute to preventing the exacerbation of climatic conditions, I can take part in research aimed at identifying and exposing the changes in climate, in particular, by visiting conferences and delivering reports on the topic (Rooney et al., 2014). It is also within my ability to organize informational campaigns to disseminate information about the dangers of climate change among the population. For instance, it is possible to write and post informative materials on such social media as Facebook, post links to some texts on Twitter, and so on.
Various types of groups on these social media can also be created and then utilized as a tool for disseminating pertinent information about the members of these groups. The materials provided via these channels can include elucidative texts, news about discoveries about the issue of changes in the climate, etc. It is also a possibility to join some movements that are concerned with the problem of environmental protection, which should be useful because it would allow for combining efforts of a large group of people whose agenda is to prevent the deterioration of the natural environment (Watts et al., 2015). Also, at a later date, it might become possible for me to join a professional organization that is concerned with addressing the issue of climatic changes, and use my professional knowledge and expertise to advocate for adoption of policies that would be aimed at preserving and protecting the natural environment and averting its further deterioration (Watts et al., 2015).
Summary and Conclusion
All in all, it should be pointed out that environmental health is an interdisciplinary area of study that is aimed at identifying and controlling factors which are of external origins concerning an individual, and which may have a negative influence on their health (Frumkin, 2016; NEHA, n.d.). There exist a plethora of such factors; for instance, they may include the quality of air that people use for breathing, the degree of noise pollution, the access to drinking water, the levels of occupational safety, the problem of climate change, and many others. For me, there exists an opportunity to participate in environmental health to address environmental barriers to health by taking steps aimed at disseminating information about climate change, for example, by utilizing social media, joining movements whose aims involve the protection of the environment, and so on. On the whole, it might be concluded that environmental health is a multidisciplinary area of study, and professionals from different areas of specialization might be able to make their contribution to efforts aimed at ensuring that the environment is safe and beneficent for humans.
Battersby, S. (Ed.). (2016). Clay’s handbook of environmental health (21st ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.
Frumkin, H. (2016). Environmental health: From global to local. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.
National Environmental Health Association. (n.d.). Definitions of environmental health.
Rooney, A. A., Boyles, A. L., Wolfe, M. S., Bucher, J. R., & Thayer, K. A. (2014). Systematic review and evidence integration for literature-based environmental health science assessments. Environmental Health Perspectives, 122(7), 711-718. Web.
Watts, N., Adger, W. N., Agnolucci, P., Blackstock, J., Byass, P., Cai, W.,…Costello, A. (2015). Health and climate change: Policy responses to protect public health. The Lancet, 386(10006), 1861-1914. Web.