Change being experienced in the environment is raising a lot of concern from many quarters because life depends on it. Human beings wholly depend on the environment for all the basic needs of life. The ability of the environment to sustain life directly depends on how well it is protected. Constant environmental pollution destroys nature, and this has a massive ripple effect on all living organisms. Constant emission of greenhouse gases not only destroys the ozone layer but also affects the quality of the air we inhale. This pollution has resulted in changing the weather patterns. Polluted air has negative effects on the health of people. It causes various respiratory diseases. This means that something must be done to protect the environment because it has direct impact on the health of people. It is our role to be ambassadors of a clean environment. This should involve undertaking such activities as planting trees, besides engaging in campaigns against environmental pollution by large companies. To enhance a lasting solution to this issue, the government may come up with the idea of integrating environmental health in the school curriculum at all levels ranging from lower learning levels to the higher levels for better results towards addressing environmental health issues.
Changes taking place in the environment have various effects on health of people all over the world. Healthy People 2020 vision advocates for a clean environment as a way of ensuring that people remain healthy. Some of the millennium development goals are to alleviate extreme poverty and hunger and reduce the mortality rate. This can all be achieved through sustainable development. It is from the environment that we get food, shelter, clothing, and even medicine. This means that the environment is a wonderful asset that should be harvested sustainably for the benefit of all generations present and the ones to come. However, this is not the case in many countries. Many people and nations have ignored the delicate nature of the environment and that it should be handled with a lot of care and concern. Jacobsen (2012) says that there has been massive destruction of the environment globally. This scholar argues that every aspect of the environment is facing degradation severely as people are overharvesting the environmental resources unsustainably. The emerging anti-environmentalists who argue that the environment is there to be exploited by man have complicated the whole issue. As Jacobsen (2012) points out, environmental pollution is a global issue requiring urgent concerns to prevent further degradation. This research paper explores the issue of environmental health and the health effects of environmental change.
Environmental factors that affect health
According to Morgan and Barnett (2003), it is important to be aware of the environmental factors that may pose a threat to the health of people. Several environmental factors pose impacts on the health of both people and animals. Some of these factors affect the health of humans positively while others affect their health negatively. Some of the factors that affect people’s health positively include quality air free from any form of contamination that may cause respiratory diseases and clean water for domestic use, and sanitation. In addition, proper waste management, well-conserved plantations, and other biophysical components of the environment are also important. According to Morgan and Barnett (2003), putting all these factors into consideration helps in creating an environment that is conducive for the survival of both plants and animals.
Many environmental factors affect human health negatively. As said earlier, it is important for people to know these factors and their influence on health to avoid risks that come along with an unhealthy environment. Many of the factors that negatively affect human health are anthropogenic, meaning they can be controlled to promote healthy living. They include human activities that pollute the environment making it unhealthy for human beings. It is important to note that environmental pollution affects clean water sources for domestic use, pollutes air makes it unhealthy for humans and animals, and affects the physical environment that is crucial for human survival. Jacobsen (2012) argues that some nutrition habits pose serious negative effects on the lives of people.
These nutritional factors include consumption of genetically modified foods like soybeans and corn that put people into high chances of contracting diseases like allergies, liver problems and others. The scholar points out that some newborns in countries such as Japan and Russia are born with some chemical contaminations in the umbilical cord due to exposure to harmful environmental factors having influenced their mothers. This puts such children into health danger. Human activities like deforestation pose serious negative impacts on health. Cutting of trees affects water cycle leading to droughts and disruption of the normal functioning of the life support system. Industrial activities expose humans to high health risks. Morgan and Barnett (2003) say that emission of greenhouse gases from the industries leads to climate change, which has negative impacts on both plants and animals. This scholar explains further that the greenhouse gases emitted lead to depletion of the ozone layer putting the lives of people at risk of the ultra-violet rays. Krieger and Sullivan (2001), however, elaborate that since most of the factors that pose health impacts on human beings are controllable, measures can be put to avoid or limit them in order to avoid health impacts they pose on the living organisms in the environment. The following are some of the roles that the researcher can play in an effort to eliminate the negative environmental impacts on health.
Eliminating negative environmental effects on health
It is worth noting that elimination of environmental barriers to health calls for a collaborative approach. However, this approach has to be championed by an enthusiastic individual who wants to take actions to curb environmental barriers to health. I can play many roles as a researcher in eliminating the environmental barriers to health. To do this I would start with creating awareness on the importance of conserving the environment to enhance its sustainability. Here, I will point out clearly the benefits, which are crucial for healthy living, that we derive from a well-conserved environment. To achieve this I will avail all the relevant information for public access. This will enable the public, including the relevant authorities, to read and internalize the discussed environmental facts. I will again engage all the relevant environmental authorities in the formation of environment friendly policies that encourage sustainable use of environmental resources. As a researcher, I will also lobby for reduced emissions from industries by encouraging the enactment of emission limits for industrial activities to avoid negative health impacts on people. This will help fight incidences of ozone layer depletion, which puts health of people at risk.
This will also help avoid the climate change that influences the wellbeing of people and other living organisms negatively. In addition, I will sensitize the public on proper nutrition and the need to avoid genetically modified foods that have negative impacts on their health. In my advocating for proper nutrition, I will point out to the public and health department the need to encourage consumption of locally produced foods. As Hilgenkamp (2005) puts that avoiding consumption of genetically modified foods will reduce liver problems and other health risks largely. For my efforts to yield long-term benefits I, together with the health and environment related departments, will encourage public participation in formation of environmental and health policies. This will give members of public a chance to air their views and opinions on matters related to environmental health. Through this, it will be easier to eliminate environmental barriers to health.
The environment provides life to all the living organisms and, therefore, important benefits derived from the environment should not be taken carelessly. Sustainable use of environmental resources is the best way through which a nation can develop while still protecting the interest of the future generation. Resources such as money, time, and labor used to treat diseases that come along with poorly managed environment would be used for the development of a nation’s economy. This will also reduce the burden encountered by the health service providers enabling them to participate in building the economy in other ways. It is also important for the government to identify all environmental barriers to health and involve the public in finding relevant mitigation measures to protect the environment.
Hilgenkamp, K. (2005). Environmental health: Ecological perspectives. Sudbury: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Jacobsen, K. (2012). Introduction to health research methods: A practical guide. Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Krieger, R., & Sullivan, J. (2001). Clinical environmental health and toxic exposures. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Morgan, T., & Barnett, D. (2003). Environmental health. Belmont: Wadsworth.