When you hear the term “health”, there are many things that come to your mind. Healthy living includes healthy eating habits, regular visits to the doctor, getting vaccinations, and exercising. Your health is how well your body functions and the quality of your life. A broader view of health is also possible.
The study of the environmental and human-made dangers to human health and the protection of ecosystems against them is an important part in environmental health. This includes the study of the environmental influences on disease spread and the impact of chemical human-made substances on wildlife.
Types and Effects of Environmental Hazards
Each day we are exposed to numerous environmental dangers. You can classify them into four groups: biological, chemical, cultural, and physical. The environment is naturally prone to physical hazards. These are natural disasters such a tornadoes. All physical hazards are not discrete. Some are ongoing, such as ultraviolet radiation. UV radiation can damage DNA and cause health issues such as skin cancer or cataracts.
Both natural and man-made chemicals can pose chemical hazards. Chemical hazards that are caused by humans include many synthetic chemicals, such as pesticides, plastics, and disinfectants. There are some chemical hazards that can be found in the environment. These include the heavy metals, lead and mercury. Some organisms produce chemicals that pose an environmental risk, like the peanuts or dairy ingredients that cause allergic reactions in people. Interactions between organisms can cause biological hazards.
Biological hazards can be caused by ecological interactions between organisms. Infectious diseases occur when pathogens or diseases are transmitted from one organism to another. These diseases and pathogens occur when we are being parasitized by another organism. While it is dangerous, this natural process can also be beneficial. Cultural hazards, also called social hazards, are caused by your socioeconomic status, occupation, location, and behavior choices.
Tobacco smoking is a bad choice and can be dangerous for your health. You may be at risk if you live in a dangerous area. Similar to your health, the health of the surrounding environment and your own health, as well as your exercise habits and diet, can also impact your health.
Indoor Environmental Hazards
Environmental hazards can be from many sources, as you can see. Although many hazards are from outside sources, it is important to be aware of indoor sources because we spend so much time indoors. Environmental hazards can exist in every part of your environment. This includes your car, home office, and office. Radon gas, for instance, can be very dangerous indoors. Radon is an odorless, colorless radioactive gas.
It seeps through soil, rocks, and water into homes. It is the second most common cause of lung cancer in America, after tobacco smoke. Lead is another indoor environment hazard. Lead, which is a toxic metal, can cause major organ damage such as your brain, liver and kidneys. Lead can cause mental retardation and anemia as well as hearing loss. Lead can be found in old pipes and paint. Lead pipes can cause water contamination and lead poising. Children are particularly at risk because lead in paint can be ingested or eaten by children.
Another indoor danger is asbestos. While asbestos has been used as insulation in buildings for many years, its good insulating qualities make it dangerous. Asbestos is inhaled because of its fibrous structure. This mineral sticks to the lungs and your body produces an acid to remove it. The acid damages the lung tissue, but it doesn’t do much to eliminate the asbestos. This can lead to lung cancer or nonfunctioning lungs.
There have been many efforts to eradicate indoor environmental hazards from our environment. There are radon detection kits that can test your home for the presence. The lead in pipes used for new construction is much lower than that in older homes. Many paints are no longer lead-free. While asbestos is being removed in public buildings, there are still some who believe that it can be more hazardous than leaving it alone.
You Now Know What is Environmental Health
Each day we come across a multitude of environmental hazards. Environmental health is about understanding all the hazards inherent in natural and human-made environments. Physical hazards are caused by physical processes. These can be short-term or continuous hazards such as UV radiation, hurricanes, tornadoes, and volcanic eruptions.
Chemical hazards can be from many natural and human-made sources. They could be synthetic chemicals found within plastics or pesticides. Or they may be natural chemicals that organisms have made, such as allergens in peanuts or dairy. Biological hazards arise from interactions between organisms in an environment. Although natural, the transmission and spread of infectious diseases, such as viruses and bacteria, can be a serious health risk for humans and other organisms.
Cultural hazards can be caused by behavioral choices and other social aspects. Environmental health can be affected by where people live and the jobs they do. Although most of these hazards are from outside sources, there are also indoor environmental hazards. Indoor environmental hazards can include lead, asbestos, and radon. We now have a better understanding of the potential damage these hazards can do to indoor health and have taken steps in order to reduce their presence within indoor environments.