Does environmental factors have an effect on health?
Environmental factors are the sum total of biotic and abiotic factors (living and non-living factors) that influences living in any environment. This also includes cultural, technological, demographic and economic factors because they exert a certain level of impact on health.
- Ambient temperature
- Amount of sunlight
- pH of the water soil
All living things
Technological, Demo-graphical, Cultural and Economic factors
How Does the Environment Factors Affect Our Health?
The environment plays a significant role in disease (infectious and non-infectious) causation. The environment is rapidly changing and so is its impact on the disease patterns and trends.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over thirteen million deaths are attributable to preventable environmental causes annually. Exposure to certain environmental factors such as environmental carcinogens can damage DNA and increase the risk of cancer.
According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cancer incidence rates have risen drastically in the last 4 decades. Available data shows that testicular cancer is up 300 percent, Non-Hodgkins lymphoma has increased by nearly 100 percent while brain cancer and breast cancer are up by 90 and 60 percent respectively. Going by current trends, the rate of cancer is expected to double by the year 2050.
The pattern is not different in developing countries where the environmental burden of disease is 15 times higher as compared to developed world.
Available data shows that every day around 1,800 people die as a result of exposure to urban air pollution in developing countries. With the dangers posed by climate change, overcrowding and air pollution becoming more evident as cities grow, this piece x-rays the various impact of environmental factors on health.
How does Temperature Affect Health?
Changes in temperature (heat waves or cold spells) has a significant impact on health. According to Professor Tiina M Ikäheimo of the Center for Environmental and Respiratory Health Research, Institute of Health Sciences University of Oulu, the study of the impact of temperature on health became necessary due to increased morbidity with the ageing population.
Recent studies have linked unusual fluctuations in temperature to cerebrovascular, cardiovascular, and respiratory conditions. In addition, Epidemiological time-series and case-crossover studies have shown definite association between temperature and cause-specific, elderly mortality or morbidity which includes emergency room admissions and hospitalization.
The rapid increase in the incidence of Erythromelalgia have also been linked to rising temperatures.
How Does Sunlight Affect Health?
Sunlight is a major factor in the synthesis of Vitamin D a very important vitamin to humans. However, the toxic effects of ultraviolet light from sunlight is a major concern for human health because of its relation to skin cancer and premature aging.
A recent study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives reported that spending at least one hour or more outside every day over a ten year period decreases the likelihood of developing breast cancer among women.
Another study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology reported that exposure to sunlight causes nitric oxide present in the skin to be absorbed directly into the bloodstream, which aid in the widening of blood vessels thus leading to lower blood pressure. Furthermore, exposure to a specific type of ultraviolet radiation (ultraviolet B Radiation) has been shown to reduce the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis in women according to a study published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases.
How Does The pH of Drinking Water Affect Health?
The pH and other quality parameters of water are a very important to public health because of its major implication on health. Acidic water tends to corrode metallic plumbing infrastructure leaching metals such as lead Iron, manganese, copper, and zinc into the water.
Elevated levels of metals like lead in drinking water can increase the risk of developing cancer, high blood pressure, stroke, kidney disease and memory problems. In contrast, a slightly alkaline drinking water has been shown to ease the symptoms of acid reflux.
How Does Humidity Affect Your Health?
The indoor environmental quality is determined to a large extent by the level of humidity. A highly humid environment is the perfect breeding ground for disease-causing microorganisms and parasites. High humidity levels lead to the proliferation of mold, dust mites and mildew
which can pose significant health challenge for individuals prone to allergies and asthma attacks. On the other hand, low levels of humidity have been found to increase the risk of developing viral flu, congestion, dry eyes and scaly skin according to some studies.
How Do Biotic Environmental factors Affect Your Health?
The impact of biotic environmental factors on health are huge especially their roles in the etiology of infectious and zoonotic diseases. Available data shows that an estimated 85 % of plant diseases are caused by fungal or fungal-like organisms while 16% of cancers in humans are caused by viruses or bacteria.
Environmental factors affect health because it plays a key role in many diseases caused by microorganisms and the current changes in the environment is having a significant impact on how this relationship affects the health of humans and livestock.