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8 Environment Factors That Affect Health

The environmental challenges are adversely affecting the health of individuals and communities especially the vulnerable groups

Photo Credit : Canva,

The recent pandemic has shown the vulnerability of our public health systems. There is a dire need to strengthen the resilience to such emergencies in future.

Governments and societies are increasingly making efforts to improve upon the aspects of human health and well-being that are determined by environment factors. Limiting people’s exposure to hazardous physical, chemical, and biological agents in air, water, soil, food, and other environmental media will reduce their susceptibility to future pandemics, improve their health and provide an impetus to the  public health systems.

The environmental challenges are adversely affecting the health of individuals and communities especially the vulnerable groups such as the elderly, economically weak, pregnant women and children. Medical conditions like malignant growth, asthma, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s sickness and many more are directly related to the increased levels of pollution and water contamination. If the various environmental issues affecting health are adequately addressed, it can improve health and safeguard life from the harmful toxic effects from pollutants.

Following are some of the specific environmental factors that can impede human health and wellness.

Air Pollution

Air pollution is caused by hazardous solid or liquid particles and certain gases that remain suspended in the air. These particles and gases can come from car and truck exhaust, factories, dust, pollen, mold spores, volcanoes and wildfires etc.

When someone is exposed to high levels of air pollution, it can cause various adverse health concerns. It massively increases the risk of asthma and other respiratory diseases, cardiovascular disease and even lung cancer. More severe impact is upon people who are already suffering from pre existing illness, pregnant women, infants and children, the elderly and economically weak. The most toxic pollutants that leads to major diseases and premature mortality are fine PM2.5 particles that penetrate deep into lungs.

Water Pollution

Water is life. It is one of the most important natural resources on which all living things depend. Water pollution is the contamination of water sources by substances which make the water unusable for drinking, cooking, agriculture, cleaning, swimming, and other activities. Pollutants include chemicals, plastics, trash, bacteria, and parasites etc.

Major sources of water pollution is release of toxic domestic, industrial and agriculture wastes directly into water streams, population growth, excessive use of insecticides, pesticides, fertilisers and urbanisation. Oceans are being indiscriminately polluted by plastic waste, which cause harmful affects on the marine life indirectly affecting humans leading to diseases like cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid etc.

Environmental Chemicals

Exposure to harmful environmental chemicals like mercury, lead, asbestos, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides etc, both indoor and outdoor, may cause many bad health effects, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, allergies and cancer.

Global Environment Issues

Worldwide environmental issues like global warming, pollution, wildfires, poor waste management systems, worsening biodiversity, increasing population, green gas emissions causing ozone depletion, etc, cause more than 12.6 million deaths every year, as per WHO.

Diseases caused by microbes

Diseases like flu, measles, typhoid, diarrhoea and cholera are caused by microbes. Pathogenic bacteria cause diseases such as plague, tuberculosis and anthrax whereas protozoan parasites cause diseases such as malaria, sleeping sickness, dysentery etc.

Eating is one of the ways by which people can contract infections brought about by organisms. One such example is food contamination from E. coli, a type of microbe which can cause respiratory sickness, urinary diseases, and other adverse health impacts.

Lack of access to health care

Patients who are physically unable to drive, who are financially weak, or who otherwise cannot obtain transportation to the doctor or hospital often go without care. Lack of education or knowledge about various ailments may also lead to premature suffering or even death. Inadequate health Insurance coverage is also an issue. Not all are able to get themselves insured and are hence deprived of proper medical care.

Infrastructure Issues

A good health infrastructure is essential for the human well-being. It includes advanced hospitals equipped with latest technology, machines, specialist doctors, nurses, and other paramedical professionals and developed pharmaceutical industries etc. Poor infrastructure generally leads to bad quality of service, which in turn not only wastes resources but is positively dangerous to the health and welfare of the patients and the community at large.

Climate change and natural disasters

Climate change is impacting human health in many ways, including by leading to death and illness from increasingly frequent extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, storms, hurricanes, typhoons,  wildfires, landslides, droughts and floods, the disruption of food systems, increases in water and vector-borne diseases, mental health issues and more. Natural disasters also cause disruption in economic well being of societies besides affecting health of life on Earth.


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health care Environmental change

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