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.
Do you know that our body is made of chemicals and everything surrounding us is made of chemicals as well? Moreover, everything we see, hear, touch, taste, and smell relate to chemistry and chemical matters. Actually, seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling concern complex series of chemical reactions and interactions in everyone’s body. And tons of changes we discover around the world are caused by chemical reactions.
So, stop thinking that chemistry just happens in laboratories. It appears everywhere and occurs in our daily life. And this post helps you understand more about this field.
First, learn what chemical reaction is
When making mention of the chemicals, people usually think about toxic things such as acid, drain cleaner, bleach, etc. Of course, you’re not wrong because they’re clearly chemicals.
A chemical is a material that has a particular chemical composition. A chemical reaction is known as a process where a set of chemical substances responds with each other to lead to different transformations. The first substances used the reaction are generally called reactants while the last ones formed after the reaction are defined as a product. Depending on the reaction is started with or without energy, there are two distinct types including spontaneous reaction (happens on its own) and non-spontaneous reaction (needs energy for operation).
The chemical reactions occur more than you think. For instance, when eating food, our body uses it as the chemical energy and then turn it into the molecules that the body need to live. This process is called digestion.
And below are a couple of examples of the chemical reactions in our daily life that you might not notice in the past.
Some chemical reactions that we face every day
Photosynthesis is a familiar chemical reaction wherein plants produce their own food. This happens in presence of sunlight and other raw materials, especially water and carbon dioxide. Then the chlorophyll pigment collects the light energy from sunlight which is transformed into glucose via the phenomenon of photosynthesis.
6 CO2 + 6 H2O + Light Energy ➜ C6H12O6 + 6 O2
Do you know that performing physical movements is related to the chemical reaction? This process needs energy that is produced by aerobic respiration. Breathing helps to destroy glucose into water, energy, and carbon dioxide in the form of adenosine triphosphate. In short, it is the opposite of photosynthesis.
C6H12O6 + 6O2 → 6CO2+ 6H2O + Energy (36 ATPs)
If aerobic respiration is contrary to the photosynthesis, the anaerobic respiration is the opposite of the aerobic respiration. It’s described as a set of chemical reactions that permits cells to obtain energy from intricate molecules without oxygen.
When you perform prolonged and intense exercise, your body cells carry out anaerobic respiration. This process is responsible for muscle cramps and lactic acid synthesis. It’s also observed in some yeast, bacteria, and other organisms. Against the aerobic type, the anaerobic respiration breaks down glucose in the absence of oxygen, producing carbon dioxide, energy, and ethanol.
C6H12O6 → 2C2H5OH + 2CO2 + energy
One of the most typical examples of the anaerobic respiration is fermentation. It’s the conversion of intricate substances to simpler ones via anaerobic conditions. For instance, wine produced from fruits is a result of yeast fermentation of alcohol while the beer is from grain. Antibiotics are acquired through fermentation by some bacteria and molds. Leavened bread is a product of yeast fermentation. Vinegar, yogurt, and cheese are obtained via bacterial fermentation.
Burning of fuels is another obvious and familiar chemical reaction in our daily life. Every day as you drive to school or work, you’re burning gas. Or you burn wood for a campfire or use a gas stove for cooking. All are called combustion, which happens as oxygen and other substances combine, creating heat and often light.
C3H8 + 5O2 → 4H2O + 3CO2 + energy
The above chemical equation is found in some fireplaces and gas grills.
Instead of occurring violently and quickly like combustion does, some chemical reactions take a long time to happen. And it’s called rusting. This process results from an oxidation reaction when oxygen and iron combine to create iron oxide, forming a red or brown color. For example, an iron turns a red or brown color when it’s exposed for a long time. And below is the equation for the iron’s rusting.
Fe + O2 + H2O → Fe2O3. XH2O
Gastric acid is formed by hydrochloric acid and huge quantities of sodium chloride and potassium chloride that is produced by the cells in the peptic glands. It helps to change pepsinogen to pepsin that causes the modification of the proteins in the stomach. Besides, it eliminates the micro-organisms in the food before they can badly affect your health. What’s more, the hydrochloric acid helps to neutralize the acid in the food when you eat, maintaining the level of acid and alkalinity and keeping you healthy.
Perspiration is known as a way that our body cools itself. Body odor mostly comes from the Apocrine glands, which are in ears, armpits, genitals, breasts, and hair follicles that turn into active at the beginning of puberty. Depending on the various presence of proteins and fatty acids in the body, the sweat that these glands deliver has a slight yellow color. And the bacteria that grow on the skin destroy the emission of the Apocrine glands and form smelly odors. That’s why you can smell different odors from different people.
8.Soap and stain removers
Soap is made by the reaction between an alkali and fatty acid. This process generates a molecule with one hydrophilic and one lipophilic ends. Both get absorbed in the soap and are often washed away with water, leaving a clean surface. Soap and stain removers work as emulsifiers which permit water and oil to mix. Thanks to the oily mixture, difficult stains can be removed after applying soap or stain removers with water.
In a word, there are tons of chemical reactions in our daily life. No matter what you’re cooking, fermenting, burning, sourcing, etc., you always face them every day. Therefore, don’t mind updating necessary information about this field so that you can understand the importance of chemistry in life.