Generally, environmental health makes a significant contribution to the sustenance and improvement of public health. Whether positive or negative, our environment affects our health every single day. Speaking of ‘Environment’; this includes everything external to ourselves. It can be physical, natural, social or behavioural environments. In other words, the environment is the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates. ‘Health’, on the other hand, is the state of being completely free from mental or physical illness or injury.
Everything environmental health is geared towards the protection of the public and the environment. It works with the relationship between people and their environment. So, in simple words, Environmental Health can be defined as the theory and practice of assessing and controlling factors (physical, chemical, biological, social and psychosocial) in air, water, soil, food, and other environmental media that can potentially affect the human being. These factors can be germs, viruses, bacteria among others.
Likewise, they are known as Agents, these agents go through environmental media to get to their Host (human beings).
Environmental health is an important part of disease control and prevention. When a disease outbreak occurs, for example, environmental health answers How and Why it occurs. Finding out how and why a disease occurs can help find ways to keep agents from hosts. Why environmental health services are important includes:
An Epidemiologist main focus is on the host, he/she finds out WHO? WHERE? and WHEN? While an Environmental Health Specialist focuses on the environment and finds out HOW? and WHY?
A Laboratorian work is on the agent, and he/she answers ‘WHAT’ the agent is?
This person also known as an environmental safety inspector, determine the existence of possible health hazards and take steps to correct them. He/She monitors the health and safety conditions in residential, industrial, commercial, and recreational settings.
An environmental health specialist is a health worker with significant education that conducts the following:
Most times, people confuse an environmental health specialist with an environmental specialist, but there’s quite a big difference. A good example to differentiate the two is; an environmental specialist might study how water pollution affects a fish but an environmental health specialist would study what happens to the health of people when they catch and eat those fish’. An environmental health specialist concern is how the environment affects the people rather than how the people affect the environment.
The relationship between people and the environment is symbiotic. Although we might not see it, we impact our surroundings and our surrounding impact us. From clean air, water, plants, food supplies, and other essentials for our health and wellbeing depend on us. If we don’t take care of it, it won’t take care of us in return.
Water, for example, is most at times contaminated by us. Waste disposal, chemical discharges from factories, emissions that result from burning waste etc, contaminate water. As a result, can lead to several health issues like gastrointestinal illness, increased risk of cancer, liver damage, kidney damage, central nervous system problems, reproductive difficulties, and anaemia.
Also, toxic air can cause more damage. Outdoor pollutants like emission from coal-fired power plants, industries, refineries, and cars pollute the air. Moreso, indoor pollutants like tobacco smoke, asbestos and chemicals like solvent. Toxic air could lead to serious complications like:
The World Health Organization estimates that 19% of all cancers are caused by environmental elements. Such as outdoor air pollution, heating and cooking fuels, second-hand smoke and up to a 1.3million deaths worldwide per year in urban areas due to air pollution.