Our world is going up in flames-both literally and figuratively. Every day we hear some news or statistics about melting ice caps, plastic in the ocean, forest fires, etc. Climate is changing dramatically on a global scale. All species under the sun are being affected and humans are no exception. On this World Environment Day, let us have a look at how the changes in the environment affect our health.
What is environmental health?
The name says it all. It’s a branch of public health that focuses on the relationship between us and our environment. Environmental health is essentially about identifying and understanding various environmental sources that can potentially harm us while attempting to limit our exposure to them.
What’s wrong with our planet?
To be honest, our planet is facing a lot of environmental concerns. Our climate is changing at a pace faster than we expected. From more frequent and extreme storms to unprecedented heatwaves, we’re feeling the impact of human-caused global warming. The polar ice caps are melting and sea levels are rising. There’s plastic in our oceans and chemicals in our water. Even the air we’re breathing is tampered with pollutants.
What’s it to do with us?
Everything. The actions of humanity are now biting us in the back. Nearly 1 out of 4 global deaths are due to environment-related factors. Environmental pollutants can lead to health problems like respiratory diseases, heart disease and some types of cancer. Low-income families are more likely to live in polluted areas and their access to clean drinking water is limited. Children and pregnant women are at higher risk of health problems related to pollution.
What can we do?
Here’s how we can HELP and support the environmental health of those around us:
Healthy Planet for healthy people: Minimising environmental pollution can save lives and reduce the toll of diseases.
End EDC exposure: EDCs are hormone-disrupting chemicals. Exposure to these can lead to disorders like breast cancer and prostate cancer, obesity and diabetes as well as infertility and learning disorders.
Less non-renewable energy sources and more renewable ones: Burning coal is not only taking a toll on the environment, but also on our health and resources. Switching to more eco-friendly and economical sources can help us a great deal.
Protect the most vulnerable of us: Older people, children, pregnant women, and people suffering from some sickness are already more vulnerable to infections and disease. A polluted environment can prove to be dangerous to them. Hence their exposure should be minimised greatly.
Our world needs us today more than ever. The time for change is now. Let’s all strive to help and protect our environment and health.
1. Our planet is warming. Here’s what’s at stake if we don’t act now. Available at https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/our-planet-is-warming-here-s-what-s-at-stake-if-we-don-t-act-now Accessed on 2 June 2021
2. Air Pollution: Current and Future Challenges. Available at https://www.epa.gov/clean-air-act-overview/air-pollution-current-and-future-challenges Accessed on 2 June 2021
3. Definitions of Environmental Health. Available at https://www.neha.org/about-neha/definitions-environmental-health Accessed on 2 June 2021
4. Environmental Health. Available at https://www.apha.org/topics-and-issues/environmental-health# Accessed on 2 June 2021
5. Environmental health topic Available at https://www.who.int/health-topics/environmental-health#tab=tab_1 Accessed on 2 June 2021
6. 10 ways to protect our health and the environment. Available at https://www.env-health.org/10-ways-to-protect-our-health-and-the-environment/ Accessed on 2 June 2021