What Is Environmental Health?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2019
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Environmental health is a wide branch of study and theory focused on illness and conditions caused by the world around human beings. Rather than looking at health issues caused by the body, environmental health looks for causes and potential problems in the humans native environment. The study of environmental health usually covers the physical aspect of both the natural world and human-built surroundings. Air and water quality, climate, ultra-violet radiation, and human-created toxins are all issues carefully studied with the goal of improving environmental health.

Water and air quality are major considerations of environmental health efforts. Human beings need to hydrate and breathe simply to survive; if their air or water is polluted, it increases the risks to public health. Water and air can be polluted by a variety of factors both human and natural. Chemical runoff from factories can easily lower air quality, but the sniffling and sneezing of millions each spring shows that pollen can harm human health as well. By encouraging efforts to clean up water and air and warning the public about potentially harmful airborne or waterborne particles, public health officials can shield or at least prepare humans in harmful conditions.


One of the biggest concerns in the study of environmental health is the effects of radiation on the population. Although it may seem that radiation is usually human-created, it is easy to forget that the sun is an intense radio-active body that most humans expose themselves to daily. With the thinning of the ozone layer allowing more ultraviolet rays to penetrate the atmosphere, many experts believe that high-levels of sun exposure can be a factor in many cancers, particularly skin-related cancers. The enormous explosion in radiation-emitting electronic devices is also of concern to experts in the field, as even small increases in human exposure to radiation can have serious or dangerous results.

Another major area of concern experts is global change to human living environments. Climate change, global warming, and loss of species diversity all can do serious harm to the living conditions of humans. By working closely with scientists who study all aspects of the environment, from biologists working with endangered species re-population efforts, to meteorologists studying weather changes due to global warming, public health officials can help provide services and information about global impact on the human environment.

Public health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) devote much effort to understanding and improving environmental health. In daily life, humans tend to be exposed to a variety of natural and man-made features that can be dangerous to overall health. By providing information, public health officials can help to create an informed public that is capable of reducing health risks caused by environmental problems. If a “wear sunscreen” ad pops up, a billboard urges water conservation, or a sewer sign reads “no dumping- drains to ocean,” it is likely that public health officials concerned with environmental factors have been involved.


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Post 5

The reason for these environmental health problems is the lack of rules and regulations on industrial and poor areas. People that live in industrial zones are exposed to contaminated water and air from different types of pollution. People who live in poor areas lack public health and sanitary conditions, such as feces in the water. Through governmental regulations, the problems can be fixed.

Post 4


Sometimes I wonder if the whole environmentalist movement is trying to take over the world. I think that from what you have just said, you make it clear that that is their ultimate goal. They want to twist the arm of industry and force it to do their will, with the pretense of saving the environment.

Post 3

There are various factors which could aid in increasing environmental health safety. These include strong business rules concerning interaction of industrial facilities and wastes with the environment, instruction of new and emerging businesses in the third world on such practices, and meta-national legal institutions which regulate carbon emissions.

Post 2

I think of the example of how some tribal villages don't differentiate between areas where waste is to go and drinking water. People poop and pee in the wells and others have to drink it. This might seem foolish to the "developed" world, but actually we are doing the exact same thing. We are dumping pollutants into the air and water and poisoning ourselves, as well as many other living things which have a right to live well.

Post 1

Human and animal diseases are caused by many industrial practices which could have easily been prevented. A lot of times, companies are unaware of, or simply do not care about, the adverse effects they are having on the environment around them, causing acid rain and dirty air and water. This may cause diseases to spread to humans via animals, or directly affect the humans.

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