Environmental health definition
Environmental Health is the field of public health concerned with the environment (natural and build up) and how it affects human health, disease, and general well-being. Environment plays an important role in disease causation. Therefore understanding the interplay between various factors in the environment is critical for disease control, management, and eradication.
Concepts, Theories, and Components of Environmental Health
There are several concepts, theories, and components of environmental health, understanding and mastering their application will improve the quality of environmental management practices.
Environment: may be regarded as the sum total space or confinement and its constituents in which organisms live and operate. The environment is made of two components namely the Physical Environment which consists of All inanimate materials such as Soil (The Earth’s crust) Water, Air, Radiation (Light, other rays), etc and the biological environment which is comprised of all animate organisms such as Animals (Including human beings), Plants, (Including Fungi)Micro-organisms (Bacteria, viruses) Insects, etc.
This information is important in environmental enlightenment and awareness especially the production of information and communication material for public enlightenment. As public health officers deploy these concepts to educate the public, it enables the general public to better understand what actually constitutes the environment.
Health: health in a broader perspective is the state of total or complete physical, mental, and social well-being not simply the absence of infirmity or disease. Health is multi-dimensional consisting physical dimension of a complex integration of many biochemical and neuronal pathways which must be maintained in a delicate balance as a functional entity. There are several environmental factors affecting health as such public health education is critical for the maintenance of good health in any community, public health workers can use the above definition to drive home their educational messages. This is important because of the wrong perception of health as just the absence of disease.
Toxicity: is the degree to which a substance can damage an organism. The study of toxicity (toxicology) is defined as the study of the interactions between chemicals such as drugs, foods, pesticides, and biological systems and the types of responses produced; especially how this affects the organs. Environmental toxicology known as entox, is a multidisciplinary field of science concerned with the study of the harmful effects of various chemical, biological and physical agents on living organisms.
Characteristically chemicals that pose major environmental hazards tend to share three properties in common environmental persistence, Bioaccumulation, and High toxicity. Examples include organochlorides and organophosphates such as chloropyrifos, diazinon, malathion, parathion.
The toxicity of pesticides makes it a public health concern, regardless of whether it persists in the environment long or short. Toxicity is most times taken for granted in local communities and counties until the impact becomes glaring sometimes with lethal consequences. Most farmers do not know the impact of certain pesticides they use and how long they can persist in the environment. Read: Sewer Backup Health risks
Understanding the concept of the biosphere is the basis of having a clearer understanding of life and the ways by which the health and well-being of all life forms depend on natural systems.
The biosphere refers to the zone of life on earth, a closed and largely self-regulating system. Most people do not understand what constitutes the biosphere, this information is very important especially in the promotion of conservation and the formulation and implementation of policies. Conservationists can use this information to educate policymakers and key opinion leaders so that they can better understand what constitutes the part of the earth that supports life and move in a direction that will ensure its sustenance.
It is strongly believed that the depletion of the Ozone layer by greenhouse gases is directly linked with global warming which has been implicated in a number of health effects on the skin eye and the immune system including cancers like the basal cell carcinoma.
The impact of climate change is very visible on almost all continents, this information is very important in driving home the messages of a sustainable environment, which will, in turn, help the general public understand the impact that a continuous change in climate will have on the population and make it easier to reach agreement on the reduction of emissions that contribute to ozone depletion.
Sanitation refers to the prevention of human contact with the hazards of wastes through hygienic means. It also refers to the proper treatment and disposal of wastewater and sewage. It has been conceived that water and sanitation are the main drivers of public health by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Poor sanitation has always been linked with communicable diseases, especially water-borne and vector-borne diseases. Therefore, solving sanitation challenges will result in the eradication of communicable diseases because wherever humans gather, their waste also accumulates. This action will not only help improve the health and overall well-being of communities, but it will also help alleviate the economic impact occasioned by diseases caused by poor environmental sanitation practices.
Indoor environmental quality (IEQ): The well-being of occupants of any building is tied to the environmental quality of the building. The study of this relationship is referred to as indoor environmental quality. IEQ is determined by many factors, including lighting, air quality, and damp conditions.
The presence of a disease-causing agent in a building especially in the air can lead to diseases and ailment, therefore when we understand the sources of indoor environmental contaminants and how to control them it places us on a better pedestal to help prevent or resolve building-related symptoms and diseases in occupants.
Ecology is the study of natural systems existing in equilibrium and the forces responsible for maintaining the equilibrium. The natural ecological system has a characteristic feature of how it maintains the adaptive balance that sustains all life forms within its confinement.
LeChatelier’s principles may help to explain this equilibrium. The principle states that
A change in factor that affects an equilibrium system will cause the system to react in such a way as to reduce or counteract the change to restore the status quo.
Humans by our activities often disrupt the balance that exists. Unfortunately, many do not even know such a delicate balance exists, this concept, when escalated in information dissemination materials by environmentalist, will enable the general public to understand how they slowly destroy the planet by their activities and measures they can take to remedy the situation
This is concerned with the interaction between the worker and the job it is the science of making the job fit the worker, it involves the application of human sciences for the optimization of people’s working environment.
Ergonomics e.g motor cycle ergonomics, seeks to improve the match between the job and man’s physical abilities, information handling, and workload capacities. Furthermore, when adopted by businesses, it will help business owners enhance profit by increasing productivity and reducing accidents and also help reduce employee turnover, decrease absenteeism, improve morale and increase employee involvement.
Hazard may be defined as any situation that possesses the potential to cause harm or threat to life, health, and property, or the environment. The term potential used in this definition suggests probability, extent or more general risk. Examples include crossing the highway without looking right or left, an environment where radioactive material has been disposed.
This information is very critical and as the environment is replete with diverse sources of hazard which could be deleterious to the population including these concepts in occupation safety, health safety and environment training or other forms of training will reduce the level of risk involved and the consequent unpleasant outcome due to the exposure
What are environmental health Problems?
Environmental Health problems refer to the challenges related to the harmful effects of human activity on the biophysical environment which results in a detrimental effect on the welfare of humans, animals, and other organisms that make up the biophysical environment. The job description of environmental scientists may range from sample collection and analysis to legislation and advocacy on environmental health and protection.
Types of Environmental Factors That Affect Health
- Global warming and its increasing health impact
- Pesticides and Genetically modified foods and their health impact
- Wastewater management and sanitation
- Overpopulation, Built Environment, and disaster Preparedness
- Contamination of Water Sources
- Decreased indoor environmental quality due to large scale Indoor smoke and pollution
- Vector control (Zika & Malaria)
Why is Environmental Health Important?
Without the delicate balance that exists on the planet, life on earth will be miserable. Disrupting such balance could have a severe impact on the well-being of the global population because there is always that constant interaction between humans and the environment resulting in exposure to hazardous substances present in the air, water, soil, and food as well as occupational risk and hazards. The constant depletion of the ozone layer by our activities has resulted in changes in climatic patterns and its resultant effects manifested in natural disasters and changes in disease patterns.
Environmental Health Scientist Career
Environmental scientists are specialists in public health dedicated to understudying environmental resources (natural & man-made) and how they affect or influence health on the planet.
Responsibilities of Environmental Health Scientists
- Environmental Health Scientists collect and analyze field data to assess pollution levels in the environment ( water, soil, and air ) as well as trends in the climate, animal activity, and other critical environmental variables
- Environmental Health scientists often present reports and data that clarify findings for co-workers, policymakers, lawmakers, the community, and inter-agency colleagues
- Environmental Health Scientists address major and minor environmental problems with sustainable, cost-effective strategies.
Salary of Environmental Health Scientist
National Average Salary
Amount: $63,570 Per year
- Top Paying States
- Position 1: Rhode Island Amount: $84,680 Per year
- Position 2: Washington Amount: $81,000 Per year
- Position 3: Virginia Amount: $80,200 Per year
See: Environmental Agencies In Nigeria And Their Functions
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