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24 Sep 2021

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Environmental Health: All You Need To Know About Environmental  Health
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Environmental Health: All You Need To Know About Environmental Health

Overview

Environmental health is the division of public health that deals with all aspects of the natural and built environment that affect human health. Moreover, environmental health focuses on the natural and built environment for the benefit of human health. The main sub-disciplines of ecological or environmental health are environmental sciences; Environmental and occupational medicine, toxicology, and environmental epidemiology.

Other terms that refer to environmental health are environmental health and health protection.

Definition of Ecological Health

In a 1989 World Health Organization (WHO) document, environmental health was defined as Aspects of human health and disease determined by ecological factors. Also, it refers to the theory and practice of evaluating and controlling environmental factors that can potentially affect health.

As defined by the WHO Regional Office for Europe, environmental health includes the direct pathological effects of radiation, chemicals, and some biological agents and the results of the broad physical, psychological environment, social and cultural on health and well-being, housing construction, and urban development, land use, and transportation.

As of 2016, the WHO environmental health website states: Environmental health refers to all chemical, physical, and biological factors exterior to a person and all related factors that affect behavior. It aims to preventing disease and creating a healthy environment. This definition excludes behaviors unrelated to the environment and associated with the social and cultural environment and genetics.

The WHO defined environmental health services as services that implement environmental health policies through surveillance and control activities. They also perform this function by promoting environmental parameters and promoting healthy and respectful technologies and behaviors with the environment. In addition, they play a prominent role in the development and stimulation of new policy areas.

Children’s environmental health is the academic regulation that studies how early life environmental pressures (chemical, nutritional, and social) affect health and development in childhood and human life.

Concerns of Ecological Health

An overview of the primary health effects of some common types of pollution in humans.

  • Air quality, including outdoor air quality and indoor air quality, including concerns about environmental tobacco smoke.
  • Biosafety
  • Disaster risk reduction and response.
  • Climate change and its effects on health.
  • Environmental racism: specific groups of people may be exposed to an increased environmental hazards risk such as water pollution, air, and soil. Also, this happens due to economic and political processes and marginalization, and ultimately racism. Environmental racism disproportionately affects different groups worldwide but generally affects the most marginalized groups in a particular region/nation.
  • Food safety, including agriculture, transportation, food processing, wholesaling and retailing, and distribution.
  • Management of hazardous substances, including the management of dangerous substances, rehabilitation of contaminated sites, prevention of leaks from underground storage tanks, and prevention of emissions of hazardous substances to the environment and response to emergencies resulting from such emissions.
  • Housing, including substandard housing removal and inspection of prisons and prisons.
  • Prevention of lead poisoning in childhood.
  • Land use planning, including intelligent growth.
  • Disposal of liquid waste, including municipal sewage treatment plants and internal sewer systems, such as septic tank systems and chemical toilets.
  • Disposal and disposal of medical waste.
  • Fight against noise pollution.
  • Occupational safety and hygiene.
  • Radiological health with exposure to ionizing radiation from radioactive isotopes or X-rays.
  • Disease prevention in recreational water, including freshwater and marine swimming pools, spas, and bathing areas.
  • Drinking water.
  • Solid waste disposal, including landfills, recycling facilities, composting, and reliable waste transfer stations.
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals, whether in consumer products, homes, workplaces, air, water, or soil.
  • Vector control, including control of mosquitoes, rodents, flies, cockroaches, and other animals that can transmit pathogens.

Disciplines of Ecological or Green Health

Five basic disciplines contribute to environmental health: environmental epidemiology, toxicology, exposure science, environmental engineering, and environmental law. Each of these five disciplines contributes different pieces of information to describe environmental health problems and solutions. However, there is some overlap between them.

  • Environmental epidemiology studies the association between environmental exposures, including exposure to radiation, chemicals, radiation microbiological agents, etc., and human health. Observational studies that look at exposures that humans have already experienced are widely used in environmental epidemiology because humans cannot be ethically proven to be exposed to pathogens known or suspected to cause disease.
  • Toxicology explains how environmental exposures lead to specific environmental health outcomes, usually in animals, to understand possible health outcomes in humans. Toxicology has the advantage of conducting randomized controlled trials and other experimental studies because it can use animals. Although there are many differences in animal and human biology, there can be significant uncertainties when interpreting the results of animal studies concerning their effects on human health.
  • The science of exposure studies human exposure to environmental pollutants by identifying and quantifying exposure. Exposure science can be used to aid ecological epidemiology by better describing environmental exposures that may lead to a particular health outcome, identifying common vulnerabilities whose health outcomes can be better understood through a toxicology study.
  • Environmental technology or engineering applies scientific and technical principles to protect the human population from adverse environmental factors, protect the environment from the potentially harmful effects of natural and human activities, and general improvement of environmental quality.
  • Environmental law comprises the network of treaties, rules, regulations, and general and customary laws dealing with human activities’ effects on the natural environment.

Ecological Health Information Program

Information Center of the United States – American National Library of Medicine. So the Ecological Health and Toxicology Information Program is a comprehensive environmental health and toxicology website that includes free access to resources created by US government agencies and organizations and operates under the umbrella of service. TEHIP contains links to technical databases, bibliographies, tutorials, and consumer-oriented resources. TEHIP is responsible for the Toxicology Data Network, an integrated system of environmental health and toxicology databases, including the hazardous substances database, which is freely accessible.

Ecological Health Mapping

Environmental Protection Agency Toxic Data Release Inventory Programs and Basic Research Superfund. So there are many tools available for mapping ecological health. Moreover, TOXMAP is a Geographic Information System of the specialized information services of the US National Library of Medicine that uses maps to help users identify the Agency. Besides, TOXMAP is a federally funded resource. So the chemical and ecological or green health information for TOXMAP comes from the NLM’s Toxicology Data Network and other authoritative sources.

Ecological health profession

Ecological health professionals may be environmental health officers, public health inspectors, specialists, or professionals. However, Researchers and policymakers also play an essential role in how ecological health practiced in this area.

So Doctors and veterinarians in many European countries committed to environmental health in Scotland. Also, Ecological health professionals must acquire a recognized graduate or bachelor’s degree in environmental health and national professional certification in Canada.

Moreover, many United States states also require that individuals have bachelor’s degrees and professional licenses to practice environmental health. Also, California law defines the scope of ecological health as follows:

“Scope of Environmental Health Practice” means the practice of ecological health by registered environmental health professionals in public and private sectors, but not limited to organization, management, education, enforcement, advice, and contingency measures for the prevention of the environment threats to health and the promotion and protection of public health and the environment in the following areas: food protection;  institutional ecological health; Land use; protection against common noise; Recreational swimming areas and waters; Electromagnetic radiation control; Handling of solid, liquid and dangerous substances; Control of underground storage tanks; On-site sewage treatment plants; Vector control; Drinking water quality; Water treatment; Preparedness for emergencies; and milk and milk hygiene following Section 33113 of the Food and Agriculture Code.

Conclusion

This article is all about ecological or green health. So it intended to fulfill our role as educators, reviewers, and researchers. Also, it is provided to assist public health professionals as gatekeepers of their respective specialties and sub-disciplines whose job is to protect, maintain, and enhance the public’s health.

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