What is health? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is not only a state of full physical, metal, and social happiness but also the absence of disease or weakness. It can be said that health is the level of metabolic or functional effectiveness of a living being.
What does disease mean? It’s an unusual state that happens at an organism of a person. It might be caused by exterior factors or inner dysfunctions. In humans, it is usually used more widely to mention any condition that creates pain, distress, dysfunction, social issues, or even death.
So, you can recognize that human health is often influenced by different factors such as biological, nutritional, psychological and chemical.
And the question today is whether the environment has any impacts on our health. The truth is that the environment always has a straight and close relationship on those living on it. More importantly, the recent diseases are the result of human’s maladjustment to his environment.
Overview of the relationship between environment and human health
A study from WHO has pointed out that about 13 million people die each year and the major cause starts from the environment. In many countries, among 100 dead persons have 10 deaths due to air pollution or unsanitary water. And the saddest thing is that the main victims are all almost children under 5.
Besides, the development of the society has created extra factors, making the environmental pollution more seriously. They include ultraviolet radiation, noise, the chemical use in agriculture, climate changes, etc. Moreover, the number of people who are suffering from cancer or neurological and functional effects of the endocrine is highly increasing.
So, the fact is that the more modern our society is, the more our environment has been downgraded.
Air pollution and human health
When it comes to the environment, the first thing that most people think about is the quality of air. We all know that living in a pollution-free environment will give us a better life. However, the issue is whether or not we know how atmospheric contamination influences us.
Among 13 million deaths worldwide are about seven million ones due to the air pollution. Concentration and development of the population in big cities as well as the way in which we use up energy through heating and air conditioning system or transporting result in an awful emission of gases that are extremely dangerous to our health.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), there are six main substances creating the air pollution consisting of Sulfur Dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM), Ozone (O3), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), lead (Pb), and Carbon Monoxide (CO).
Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)
A person exposed to SO2 has a higher occurrence of shortness of breath, cough, fatigue colds of long duration, and bronchitis. In the atmosphere, the SO2 will be converted to sulfate salts, which can be removed via a process of forming sediment in liquid or washout along with precipitation, so creating acidic rainwater.
Particulate Matter (PM)
The particulate matter (PM) might affect the human body on setting and causing external effects such as effects on the skin. But, particular groups of PMs may pass into the bloodstream and act as a systematic poison. In the respiratory tract, the effect depends on the size of the PM, penetration deposition, its solubility, and clearance mechanism.
With 5 PMs, they might cause irritation of bronchospasm, allergic alveolitis, and pulmonary edema. Meanwhile, the certain molds of the bigger particulate matter may cause obstructive lung disease.
Breathing ozone may lead to an array of health issues such as coughing, congestion, chest pain, and throat irritation. Even, it might bring about asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema. “Bad” ozone can diminish lung function and provoke the linings of the lungs as well.
No matter what your health condition is good or bad, you will experience hard breathing when exposed to ozone pollution. Since ozone usually forms in hot weather, if you often spend times outdoors in the summer, you can be affected.
In addition, the ground-level ozone damages ecosystem and vegetation. It causes reduced commercial forest yields and agricultural crop, increased susceptibility to diseases, or reduced development and survivability of tree seedlings. What’s more, the ground-level ozone hurts the foliage of plants and trees as well as influencing the landscapes of cities, parks, forests, and recreation areas.
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
Nitrogen Dioxide is a risky air pollutant since it contributes to the development of photochemical smog, which brings dangerous impacts on human health. Although some NO2 are created naturally in the atmosphere by lightning or produced by water, plants, and solid, only 1% is found in the big cities. Meanwhile, its main source is from motor vehicle exhaust (nearly 80%).
If you’re living in the raised levels of NO2, the easy-to-recognize effect is an increased chance of respiratory issues. The NO2 provokes the lining of your lungs and it can decrease immunity to lung infections. Additionally, it can create some troubles such as coughing, wheezing, flu, chest pain, colds, or even bronchitis. What’s more, the high degree of NO2 can bring about serious influences on people with asthma since it may cause more intense and frequent attacks.
Lead particles from the atmosphere might be inhaled and settle down as dust in surrounding areas such as on vegetation or water. So, it’s easy for us to ingest them. Amongst the entire estimated release of lead from the vehicles, around 50-70% is delivered as emission into the environment. And this may damage our nervous system, kidneys, reproductive system and even cause high blood pressure.
Children tend to absorb lead more than adults. If they are exposed to lead, they might show lack of intelligence, decrease the ability to focus and catch some behavioral problems. Besides, lead is especially dangerous for pregnant women and infants. It can be gathered in bones for decades and released during pregnancy and lactation. And this is the serious case that causes neurological issues in the developing children.
Carbon Monoxide (CO)
Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless and poisonous gas. Although it comes with no detectable odor, CO is usually mixed with other gases. So, you might inhale CO together with other gases without recognizing that CO is present.
In the process of respiration, Carbon Monoxide is extremely dangerous since it replaces oxygen in the blood as well as taking oxygen away from the heart, brain, and other important organs. A huge amount of CO can overcome you in some minutes with no warning, making you lose suffocate and consciousness.
Aside from six major substances, the effects of indoor air pollutants might create a range of short-term issues of eye and throat irritation to long-term problems of cancer and respiratory diseases. According to WHO, the indoor air pollutants are one of the most dreadful things because we often spend most of the times at home. In a recent report, there are about 3.3 million deaths relating to the indoor pollution.
Water pollution and human health
Water is the main source of our life and one of the significant factors influencing human sustenance. So, if water is polluted, it will be the dangerous thing to us. We cannot live without drinking water, but we also cannot drink the contaminated water. And the water pollution may happen on different levels and influence human health in various ways.
Creatures that create diseases in water are often called pathogens. They consist of viruses, bacteria, and other parasitic creatures that might infect human beings and cause illness. Some common diseases that mainly caused by pathogens in water include cholera, polio, typhoid, dysentery, and hepatitis.
These illnesses are especially harmful to young children. According to the latest statistic, there are about 60% of early childhood deaths worldwide due to this trouble. Although sewage treatment plants have decreased the incident of water-released diseases in some countries, less developed nations still strive for finding fresh and safe water. China, parts of India, and Africa is typical examples of water-related diseases.
Aside from the pathogens in water, the low amounts of the chemical pollutants in water supplies are also dangerous to human health. These pollutants penetrate into the water sources as drain water from kitchen or bathrooms or as runoff from agricultural fields.
The relationship between environment and human health is extremely important. We all know this, right? But, their interactions seem to be complex and hard to assess. And via this article, hope you recognize how the air and water pollution affect us. Besides, we need to know how to harmonize this connection in the process of development since protecting the environment means protecting us.