Relationship Between Health and Environment
Firstly, let us understand what environmental health is, briefly. Basically, this is the branch of public health that is concerned with all aspects of natural and man-made (built) environment that may affect human health.
WHO also defines environmental health as aspects of human health and diseases that are determined by factors in the environment.
Generally, environmental health comprises those aspects of human health including quality of life that are determined by the physical, chemical, biological, social and psychological factors in the environment.
It therefore includes the theory and practice of assessing, collecting, controlling and preventing those factors in the environment that can potentially affect adversely the health of the present and future generations.
In addition, environmental health is a wide area that includes air quality, body-act safety (e.g. body piercing and tattooing), climate change, disaster management, waste management, vector control, pollution, housing e.t.c
The Relationship Between Health and Environment
Human health ultimately depends on the society’s capacity to manage the interaction between human activities and the physical and biological environment.
This has to include ways that safeguard and promote health. However, they should not threaten the integral of the natural resources on which the physical and biological depends.
The physical environment has a major influence on human health.
Not only through temperature, precipitation and composition of air and water but also through its interaction with the type of flora and fauna.
The biological environment is a major influence on the food supply and on reservoirs and transmission mechanisms of many diseases.
Precisely, there are many aspects of our surroundings that affect our health.
We define it by the problems that we are facing. Usually, it takes in a population approach to understand a problem.
For instance, environmental health specialists might notice a certain percentage of a population is developing a particular illness.
Definitely, this raises a red flag to them and they go in to investigate. They try to find a relationship with the change in environment.
Actually, it could be any aspect of the environment! It could be:
- Infectious diseases
- Temperature and many more…
Examples of interrelationship between human activities, physical and biological environment we can reinstate using fluorine as an example. It helps in treating dental problems when a smaller amount is added in toothpastes. When in excess, it damages the teeth.
Environmental Factors That Have Affect Health
- Physical & chemical agents added to the environment that are independent of human activities and can impair health either by their presence (e.g. UV light) or by their relative deficiency for instance, Iodine.
- Noxious physical and chemical agents added to the environment by human activities e.g. NO2, through farming (from ammonia), radioactive waves.
- Pathogenic agents that cause disease (food borne and waterborne and their vectors-e.g. insect vectors in reservoirs and water storage places)