The link between environmental risks and the general health of the population has been an ongoing debate for many years. The WHO conducted a six-year study to determine the extent that disease can be attributed to various environmental risks. The term environment in this context refers to the physical, chemical, and biologic aspect which could be modified or altered by a human host. Examples of health risks from the environment include pollution of air, soil, and water; noise; ionizing radiation; occupational risks, methods of agriculture and irrigation schemes; and changes to the environment due to man. Health risks excluded from the environment include alcohol and tobacco consumption, and natural environments not easily modified such as rivers and lakes plus natural biologic agents like pollen in the outdoor environment.
The main question regarding environmental risks and human health is the extent of the reduction in disease or death that could possibly occur in an exposed population if exposure to these risks were reduced. To fully comprehend the connection between diseases and environmental risks, environmental risks contribute approximately 24% to the global burden of disease and are responsible for 23% of all deaths. Diseases with the five largest environmental components include diarrhea, lower respiratory infections, other unintentional injuries, malaria, and road traffic injuries. These five diseases alone are responsible for more than 10% of the global burden of disease. Diarrheal diseases are associated with drinking water quality, sanitation facilities, community and personal hygiene, and animal excreta management plus agricultural practice.
Environmental risks associated with malaria include drainage and contouring reservoirs, and environmental manipulation including vegetation management, safe storage of domestic water, and proper managing of peridomestic water. Children unfortunately carry a disproportionate share of the disease burden, as children 0 to 14 years old account for up to 36% of all deaths.
The WHO conducted a six-year study to determine the disease burden attributable to the environment and to estimate the extent of environmental interventions to improve human health. Of the 102 diseases and injuries listed in the WHO disease statistics, 85 are considered to have environmental contributions. The question remains as to how much of the global burden of disease could be prevented by environmental management.
Pierrette J Cazeau
MBA, MHA Post-Doctoral Global Public Health Diplomat
President & CEO
Ecohealthenvironment.org. 14 likes · 15 talking about this. Environmental health is the branch of public health that is concerned with all aspects of the natural and built environment that may affect…