World health day, environmental health

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Twenty-four percent of all deaths worldwide, or approximately 13.7 million deaths each year, are caused by environmental factors. And millions more are sick from these factors. If urgent measures are not taken to protect the environment, planet Earth will become unlivable.

Everything outside of us is environment. It is closely linked to our health. Environmental health, also called environmental medicine, studies the effect of the environment on our health.

What is the environment

The environment is everything around us. The determinants of health are climate change, global ecosystem, biodiversity, natural environment, built environment, activities, local economy, community and way of life. The interaction between different entities can be extensive and complex. The relationship of these entities with people is depicted in this illustration.

From Barton H, Grant M. 2006. A health map for the local human habitat. The Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health 126(6): 252–261.

How does the environment affect our health

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adverse environmental effects “include increased respiratory and cardiovascular disease, injury and premature death related to extreme weather events, changes in prevalence and geographic distribution of food and water. communicable and other infectious diseases, and threats to mental health.

Let’s look at the determinants of health.

Air pollution can cause many diseases, including lower respiratory tract infections, strokes, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, aggravated asthma, cancers of the trachea and bronchi and lung. It is also linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and systemic inflammation. It is also one of the main causes of cancer.

Water pollution causes cholera, giardia, typhoid, Legionnaire’s disease, cancer, hormonal disruption and impaired brain function. In 2015 he made about 1 billion people sick and killed 1.8 million. He can create dead zones“, where the waters have no plant or animal life.

Built environment where we live and work affects a person’s physical activity. The lack of sidewalks, bike paths or walking paths makes a person sedentary, obese and therefore vulnerable to chronic diseases like diabetes, coronary vascular disease and asthma.

Communities with quality affordable housing, access to healthy food, safe places to play and exercise, schools, smoke-free air laws, are healthier than those without not.

Way of life

A healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of premature deaths from cancer by 66%, from cardiovascular diseases by 65% ​​and from other causes by 57%. An unhealthy lifestyle causes cardiovascular diseases, metabolic diseases, overweight, hypertension, and joint and skeletal problems. An unhealthy lifestyle emanates from substance abuse, smoking, poor diet, and lack of physical activity and exercise. New emerging technologies and the overuse and misuse of technology also threaten the physical and mental health of individuals.

Nutrient diet, correct body mass index (BMI), exercise such as walking 10,000 steps per day or jogging, cycling, swimming for 30-45 minutes per day, adequate sleep eight hours per day not much less not much more a long time, no abuse of substances or drugs, hobbies, a positive and happy outlook on life – are signs of a healthy lifestyle.

Age, sex, heredity

Age reduces physical and mental activity and increases the risk of injury, non-communicable diseases and mental health disorders. Social isolation, exclusion and elder abuse are other risks. maintain a healthy lifestyle, to take Calcium and vitamin D supplements, be social, have friends and live as independently as possible.

sex, older men are more prone to Parkinson’s disease, Autism, Kidney stones, and Pancreatitis. Older women are more prone to strokes, osteoporosis, Migraines, Alzheimer’s disease, urinary problems and Multiple sclerosis.

Heredity determines an individual’s genes. An individual may have a genetic predisposition to a disease, which means they are more susceptible to contracting that disease. For example, the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes significantly increase the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Genetic factors also determine sleep phenotypes, susceptibility to allergic diseases, skeletal frailty and osteoporosis in both sexes. But a person with a genetic predisposition to a disease may never catch it. While others without a predisposition can get it.

Environmental health

According to the World Health Organization, “Clean air, stable climate, adequate water, sanitation and hygiene, safe use of chemicals, radiation protection, healthy and safe workplaces, healthy agricultural practices, cities and built environments favorable to health and unspoiled nature are all prerequisites for good health. ” And “healthier environments could prevent almost a quarter of the global burden of disease”. And thus, lead to huge savings in healthcare expenses and contribute to increased productivity.

Due to the close and complex interaction between the environment and health, a new branch of health, environmental health, also called environmental medicine, has emerged. This focuses on the environment and its effects on health. Its main subdivisions are environmental science, environmental epidemiology, environmental and occupational medicine, and toxicology.

Promote environmental health

Citizens must be the saviors of environmental health. They must oblige governments to protect the environment. And they must practice environmental health themselves.

Governments should implement policies to:

  • Minimize the use of groundwater.
  • Subsidize sustainable and healthy food production.
  • Tax tobacco heavily, promote smoke-free cities.
  • Reduce food waste.
  • High tax processed foods and beverages high in salt, sugars and unhealthy fats.
  • Increase green spaces, parks, recreation areas, walking and cycling trails in cities.
  • Reduce waste and plastics.
  • Subsidize renewable energies, hydrogen fuel. Stop fossil fuel subsidies.
  • Promote carbon reduction. The big tax polluters.
  • Reduce air and water pollution.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Citizens must:

  • Walk or cycle to work and for household chores as often as possible, but at least one day a week.
  • Use public transport.
  • Change to a renewable energy provider.
  • Do not heat your rooms to more than 21.5°C; or cool below 25.0C.
  • Turn off lights, heat, and air conditioning when you’re not in the room.
  • Avoid highly processed foods and drinks.
  • Buy fresh produce from local producers.
  • Prefer vegetarian diet.
  • Stop tobacco use.
  • Buy less plastic; use recyclable grocery bags.

future of planet earth

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” said George Santayana. Half of the agricultural regions of the first civilizations of humanity are today deserts. If we ignore history, that’s the direction we’re headed.

Global warming due to greenhouse gases produced by human activity will continue throughout this century and into the next. The resulting climate change will cause no more droughts, heat waves, floods, intense hurricanes and a sea level rise of 1 to 8 feet by 2100 that will affect millions of people. Overuse of water and overextraction of groundwater will cause water shortages and “water wars”.

Global emissions must peak by 2025 and then decline sharply to avoid worsening impacts. To ward off this, we must rreduce the use of fossil fuels, increase the use of renewable energy and fuels such as hydrogen, improve energy efficiency and reduce methane emissions.



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The opinions expressed above are those of the author.



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