More than two million child deaths every year are contributed to issues related to the environment. This makes the environment one of the most critical contributors to the death toll around the world. The immediate surroundings of an individual are termed as its environment. It considerably contributes to human wellness. Contaminated water, polluted air, inadequate sanitation facilities, dangerous diseases vectors, degraded ecosystems, ultraviolet radiations from the sun, toxic chemical gases due to miscellaneous human activities are few of the various risk factors contributed by the environment causing deterioration of human health.
Especially in developing countries, major contributors to illness, child-deaths, acute respiratory diseases, new medical ailments, poor lifestyle adaptations, insect-borne diseases, perinatal infections are due to environmental hazards and pollution. Factors such as malnutrition and poverty render unsustainable patterns of degradation and development in rural and urban environments and are known to lead to illness and child-deaths. Unsafe water and poor sanitation cause diarrhea leading to death in most cases. Widespread use of biomass causes indoor air pollution leading to acute respiratory infections. Most of the new mothers and hence the newborns, in the vicinity of such premises, are at a higher risk of developing chronic respiratory diseases. Poor water management and storage cause malaria. Deforestation, inadequate housing, loss of biodiversity are few of the causes for the death of children, mostly in Africa. Exposure to environmental risks can damage health right from birth. Hazardous chemicals such as mercury in food and lead in the air have long-term effects which are often irreversible, associated medical ailments are – birth defects, miscarriages, infertility and so on.
Furthermore, exposure of expectant mothers to precarious chemicals, pesticides, tenacious organic pollutants can affect the health of the fetus. Contaminated breast milk, as a result of ill-health of the mother(due to poor environmental health), is also known to affect the health of the fetus. By addressing and tackling environmental issues related to health, the well-being of children and mothers can be improved which can essentially promote and contribute towards global health.
Human health imperatively is dependant upon the ambient environment hence safeguard measures need to be carefully structured around lifestyle, demography and consumption patterns as these parameters are interlinked. Care needs to be taken to minimize factors contributing to various types of pollutions (air, water, and noise pollution) at the level of individual interest. Concern should also entail the contemplation with regards to complex systems, namely climate change, and urban environment. For various health issues and emerging environment, risk management is the need of the hour.
Questions For You.
Q.1. Can you name any three factors affecting human health?
A.1. Diet, lifestyle, psychology.
Q.2. Can physical factors affect mental health?
A.2. Yes, they can. A few physical causes such as brain trauma or injury can have a direct effect on brain chemistry and result in mental illness