Environmental pollution is currently the biggest problem facing the world today. From the end of the 20th to the beginning of the 21st century, humanity faced severe, almost universal environmental pollution issues. Linkages between the environment and human health are of increasing concern. Worldwide, between one-quarter and one-third of the burden of disease is due to environmental factors (Khan et al., 2020). However, vulnerability and impact differ across groups and areas, with children and the elderly, particularly at risk. A reasonable causal relationship exists between the environment, its pollution, and human health.
Environmental Factors that Impact Health
Environmental factors important to health primarily include homes and furnishings, the air in the environment, drinking water, food, and everyday items such as clothing and cosmetics. These environmental factors can be contaminated with pollutants or pathogens (Sharma & Singhvi, 2017). Some environmental factors may also be related to noise or radiation. They infect the human body through the respiratory tract, digestive system, skin, and sensory organs and can be harmful to health.
At present, an emergency ecological situation has developed in most industrial centers. Transport is the primary source of air pollution in urban areas, with a large proportion of the urban population still exposed to excessive levels of one or more pollutants in the air (Air Pollution, 2020). Traffic-induced air pollution is estimated to be responsible for more than 25,000 new cases of chronic bronchitis, more than 0.5 million asthma attacks, and more than 16 million person-days of limited activity each year (Air Pollution, 2020). Current levels of air pollutants are significant contributors to mortality.
Food-borne diseases caused by microbial contamination are a growing public health problem. Possible human health hazards from eating genetically modified foods include (Food Safety, 2021):
- new allergens, which are formed through the inclusion of new proteins that cause allergic reactions at a certain stage;
- antibiotic resistance genes used as “markers” in genetically modified (GM) foods, transferred to gut micro-organisms and exacerbating problems with antibiotic-resistant pathogens;
- the creation of new toxins through unanticipated interactions between GM food and other ingredients.
Potential impacts of climate change include sea level rise, more frequent and intense storms, floods and droughts, and biota and food productivity changes. Ecosystem changes can affect the growth, transmission, and activity of vector-borne and infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. It appears that adverse effects on human health, either directly or indirectly, are mediated through complex interactions of ecological systems (WHO). Direct effects may result from changes in exposure to extreme temperatures, with an increase in heat-related illness and mortality and a decrease in cold-induced disease.
There are two large groups of diseases caused by changes in the environment, that is, in its specific parameters. The first group includes environmentally conditioned human diseases; they arise as an ethnology of disease due to the impact of the environmental component. It could be (Schmidt, 2019):
- diseases caused by radiation and chemical effects;
- malignant neoplasms caused by environmental pollution with carcinogens;
- diseases caused by biological factors;
- endemic diseases.
The second group consists of the most numerous environmentally dependent diseases – diseases of a nonspecific nature that occur against the background of a significantly changed external environment. As is known, in recent decades, there has been an intensive change in the environment due to a sharp expansion of industrial production and an increase in the amount of waste polluting the environment (Schmidt, 2019). All this directly affects the health of the population, causes enormous damage to the economy, and drastically reduces labor resources. It also potentially creates a carcinogenic and mutagenic hazard for the health of present and future generations.
My Role in Improving/Eliminating Environmental Barriers to Health
How people live and goods are produced affect the world’s environment. Traffic and the enormous consumption of energy by humans also have environmental implications. These effects, in turn, affect health. Pollution by waste products of the population is one of the biggest problems today. To maintain ecological sustainability, I usually sort garbage and send it for recycling properly. The air is polluted due to the exhaust gases of road transport and chemical emissions into the atmosphere. Moreover, the destruction of forests leads to fewer trees that can enrich humanity with oxygen. The paper must be recycled to save forests from deforestation. In addition, one cannot ignore the fact that air is one of the leading environmental factors affecting health. Since polluted air is a consequence of technological development and, therefore, an urgent problem, it is necessary to pay more attention to preserving and creating a favorable climate around the world.
At the moment, the problem of environmental pollution and the impact of this process on human health is of high relevance. There are various factors that have a direct effect on society and its well-being. Global environmental problems’ characteristics are their multi-causality and extensive and delayed direct and indirect impacts. Health effects caused by other environmental factors and influences are the result of complex interactions between the environment and people that are much less conscious. Reuse and recycling are the most affordable and effective means of preserving and improving the environment.
Air Pollution. (2020). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Food Safety. (2021). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Khan, M. A. B., Hashim, M., Mustafa, H., Baniyas, M. Y., Al Suwaidi, S. K., AlKatheeri, R., Alblooshi, F. M., Almatrooshi, M. E., Alzaabi, M. E., Al Darmaki, R. S., & Lootah, S. N. (2020). Global epidemiology of ischemic heart disease: Results from the global burden of disease study. Cureus.
Schmidt, C. W. (2019). Environmental factors in successful aging: The potential impact of Air Pollution. Environmental Health Perspectives, 127(10), 102001.
Sharma, N., & Singhvi, R. (2017). Effects of chemical fertilizers and pesticides on human health and environment: A Review. International Journal of Agriculture, Environment and Biotechnology, 10(6), 675.
WHO. (n.d.). Strengthening surveillance of and response to foodborne diseases. World Health Organization.