The role of the environment and occupation on human health is referred to as environmental and occupational health ("EOH"). This is a type of public health practice. Note that occupational health is a subset of environmental health that deals with health issues related to jobs, professions, and working environments. As a result, we'll refer to occupational and environmental health as "Environmental Health" here.
When we study environmental health, we want to know how the environment affects our health and what we can do about it. For example, if we know that air pollution causes respiratory disorders like asthma, then improving air quality will be necessary to prevent asthma.
We must enhance our drinking water standards and take efforts to prevent such illnesses if we know that the quality of our drinking water is low and causes diarrhoeal diseases. As a result, when we talk about environmental health, we're talking about something we can do to benefit public health.
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Course ID: PUBH6004
University Name: George Washington University
Study Level: Undergraduate
By environment, we mean both - External to humans and Results from human activities.
Environmental cigarette smoke, for example, is a public health concern. Cigarette smoke pollutes the air, and inhaled smoke causes a variety of ailments. Smoke from burning cigarettes floats through the air and enters our lungs. Smoke is produced by human activity (smoking); it is external to us; and it is harmful to our health. As a result, smoking is a public health issue.
Health effects resulting from earthquakes, on the other hand, cannot be classified as an environmental health problem, despite the fact that people who are affected by earthquakes experience significant physical and mental health problems. The reason earthquake health consequences can't be classified as environmental health is that there's no reason to believe earthquakes are caused by human activity, thus there's nothing we can do about it.
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Because an earthquake is a natural catastrophe rather than a human-caused event, heart disease caused by exposure to an earthquake is treated as a natural disaster rather than a "environmental health" issue. The question here is whether or not something is "human engendered." The notion is that if you can be assured that something is "human engendered,"
Natural catastrophes such as storms and hurricanes, for example, have substantial health consequences such as infectious diseases and injuries, but we will classify these effects as health consequences of natural disasters rather than environmental health issues. However, we also know that increased storm frequency and natural disasters are caused by global warming, and that global warming is manmade (for example, "What is the link between hurricanes and global warming?").
From this perspective, we can argue that health effects caused by storms and natural disasters are "environmental health" issues, and that reducing global warming will affect the frequency of "storms and hurricanes," which will have implications for human health issues caused by "natural disaster induced health problems."
Another contrast is that, in order for a health concern to be classified as environmental, the cause must always be external to humans; the cause cannot be extrinsic or internal to humans. This means that pathogenic effects caused by gene mutations or alterations in the "internal milieu" are not "environmental." A gene mutation, for example, causes multiple chains of changes that lead to breast cancer. The mutation or gene is located within the body rather than outside of it. We may argue that particular foods or chemicals cause this mutation, and thus this mutation should be considered environmental, as in changing the cell environment, but this is outside the realm of "environmental health."
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We are exposed to "environmental agents" that can be harmful to our health. We are exposed to particulates in the air we breathe, as well as a variety of chemical and biological toxins in the water and food we eat. We are exposed to compounds that can harm our health almost everywhere, in all of our activities, and through a variety of different sources. Although all of these are "possibly" hazardous, the amount of time we are exposed to them determines how damaging they are. A "hazard" is anything in the "environment" that has the potential to harm our health.
A glass of water, for example, with a volume of 300 millilitres, can be both beneficial and hazardous. Water is essential for good health when consumed in normal amounts of 1.5 litres per day for most healthy persons. On the other hand, if we drank 3 litres of water every day, we might experience overhydration symptoms and damage to our kidneys. In this way, depending on how much we drink, water can be both beneficial and harmful. This idea that a drug can be both beneficial and detrimental depending on the amount taken is a key notion in environmental health and toxicology.
When a hazard is recognised, the result is referred to as risk. Cigarette smoke can cause lung damage, making it a health danger. The risk of cigarette smoking is lungs illness (among other diseases), and we can only express that risk once evidence of cigarette smoking's link to lung cancer has been found. A hazard is an open hole in the road. A risk of the hazard is a leg fracture. "Smoking reduces male smokers' lives by around 12 years and female smokers' lives by roughly 11 years," according to the American Cancer Society. The danger here is "life span decrease."
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