Last Updated 02 Jul 2020

Health and Environment

Category Environment
Essay type Process
Words 3241 (12 pages)
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The links between environment and health have been recognized since the beginning of history. The places in which we live, work and play, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the food we eat, all have impacts on health. Health is a State of complete physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being and not merely the absence of diseases. Human health and the health of all the species are intimately linked to the environment.

Health and Importance of the environment:
A clean environment is essential for human health and well-being as we use the environment as:

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A resource for food supply.
An energy source.
A source for recreation.
A major source for medicines.

Human health is based on adequate supply of foods containing the energy, nutrients, and functional properties that are essential for good health. Humans have met these fundamental needs through the consumption of a diverse range of plant and animal foods available in a wide range of ecosystems. Thus, Environment is directly linked to the existence of life. There is a close impact of biodiversity on human health as it is the foundation of human health.  Biodiversity is essential for:
Guaranteeing the healthiness of humans.
Securing the life sustaining goods and services.

Biodiversity also supports- food security, dietary health, livelihood sustainability. Biodiversity also provides important resources for medical research, like as studies of wildlife anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry can lead to important developments in human medicine. Environment takes care of our health by not only providing the basic factors, shelters and foods but also taking the burden of diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that around one quarter of the global burden of disease could be reduced through existing environmental interventions. This fraction is higher in poor countries and among children.

Environment Pollution and Health Risk:
Though the environment is of enormous importance for our health, we are polluting the environment in many ways which is really harmful for our health.

Air pollution:
Without air we cannot even survive for minutes but this air is being polluted in various ways. Firstly, by burning fossil fuels the smoke is getting mixed into the air. Secondly, a lot of trees are being cut down which are called factory of oxygen, receiving carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Due to the destruction of trees, CO2and carbon mono oxide and other harmful gases are increasing which is severely polluting the air and ruining the ozone layer of earth.

Effects on Health and the Environmen

Like photochemical pollutants, sulfur oxides contribute to the incidence of respiratory diseases. Acid rain, a form of precipitation that contains high levels of sulfuric or nitric acids, can contaminate drinking water and vegetation, damage aquatic life, and erode buildings. When a weather condition known as a temperature inversion prevents dispersal of smog, inhabitants of the area, especially children and the elderly and chronically ill, is warned to stay indoors and avoid physical stress.

The dramatic and debilitating effects of severe air pollution episodes in cities throughout the world—such as the London smog of 1952 that resulted in 4,000 deaths—have alerted governments to the necessity for crisis procedures. Even everyday levels of air pollution may insidiously affect health and behavior. Indoor air pollution is a problem in developed countries, where efficient insulation keeps pollutants inside the structure. In less developed nations, the lack of running water and indoor sanitation can encourage respiratory infections.

Carbon monoxide, for example, by driving oxygen out of the bloodstream, causes apathy, fatigue, headache, disorientation, and decreased muscular coordination and visual acuity. Air pollution may possibly harm populations in ways so subtle or slow that they have not yet been detected. For that reason research is now under way to assess the long-term effects of chronic exposure to low levels of air pollution—what most people experience—as well as to determine how air pollutants interact with one another in the body and with physical factors such as nutrition, stress, alcohol, cigarette smoking, and common medicines.

Another subject of investigation is the relation of air pollution to cancer, birth defects, and genetic mutations. . How air pollution affects our health is determined by: The length of time we are exposed. Our health status and genetic make-up. The concentration of pollutants. Peaks in air pollution can: Make it harder to breathe. Irritate our respiratory system Aggravate symptoms associated with asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Aggravate heart conditions such as angina and heart rhythm problems.

Water pollution:

Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies (e. g. lakes, rivers, oceans, aquifers and groundwater), very often by human activities. Water covers 70% of the Earth’s surface and makes up over 60% of the human body. Water pollution affects marine ecosystems, wildlife health, and human well-being. The answer to solving pollution is to make changes in our daily habits and pay more attention to the types of products we consume.

Causes of Water Pollution:

Sewage from domestic households, factories and commercial buildings Sewage that is treated in water treatment plants is often disposed into the sea. Sewage can be more problematic when people flush chemicals and pharmaceutical substances down the toilet. Dumping solid wastes and littering by humans in rivers, lakes and oceans. Industrial waste from factories, which use freshwater to carry waste from the plant into rivers, contaminates waters with pollutants such as asbestos, lead, mercury and petrochemicals. Oil Pollution caused by oil spills from tankers and oil from ship travel. Oil does not dissolve in water and forms a thick sludge.

Burning fossil fuels into the air causes the formation of acidic particles in the atmosphere. When these particles mix with water vapor, the result is acid rain. An increase in water temperature is caused by global warming and thermal plants that use lakes and rivers to cool down mechanical equipment. Effects of Water Pollution: Groundwater contamination causes reproductive damage within wildlife in ecosystems. Organic materials that when discharged into waters, increase the growth of algae, which causes the depletion of oxygen.

The low oxygen levels upset the natural ecological balance in rivers and lakes. Swimming in and drinking contaminated water causes skin rashes and health problems like cancer, reproductive problems, typhoid fever and stomach sickness in humans. Industrial chemicals and agricultural pesticides that end up in aquatic environments can accumulate in fish that are later eaten by humans. Mercury is particularly poisonous to small children and women. Mercury has been found to interfere with the development of the nervous system in fetuses and young children.

Ecosystems are destroyed by the rising temperature in the water, as coral reefs are affected by the bleaching effect due to warmer temperatures Human-produced litter of items such as plastic bags and 6-pack rings can get aquatic animals caught and killed from suffocation. Water pollution has been extensively documented as a contributor to health problems in humans and marine animal ecosystems. It has a huge impact on our lives, and if we do our part by not throwing trash or chemicals into our water supplies and drains, we can contribute to the improvement of aquatic life and of our health in general.

Noise pollution:

Noise pollution takes place when there is either excessive amount of noise or an unpleasant sound that causes temporary disruption in the natural balance. Our environment is such that it has become difficult to escape noise. Even electrical appliances at home have a constant hum or beeping sound. By and large, lack of urban planning increases the exposure to unwanted sounds. This is why understanding noise pollution is necessary to curb it in time.

Causes of Noise Pollution:

Industrialization: Most of the industries use big machines which are capable of producing large amount of noise. Apart from that, various equipments like compressors, generators, exhaust fans, grinding mills also participate in producing big noise. Poor Urban Planning: In most of the developing countries, poor urban planning also plays a vital role. Congested houses, large families sharing small space, fight over parking, frequent fights over basic amenities leads to noise pollution which may disrupt the environment of society.

Transportation: Large number of vehicles on roads, airplanes flying over houses, underground trains produce heavy noise and people get it difficult to get accustomed to that. The high noise leads to a situation where in a normal person lose the ability to hear properly While this form of pollution may seem harmless, it in fact has far reaching consequences. The adverse effects on the health of the environment are quite severe. Not only is the local wildlife affected by the pollution, humans also facing a number of problems due to it.

Effects of Noise Pollution:

Hearing Problems: Any unwanted sound that our ears have not been built to filter can cause problems within the body. Our ears can take in a certain range of sounds without getting damaged. Man made noises such as jackhammers, horns, machinery, airplanes and even vehicles can be too loud for our hearing range. Constant exposure to loud levels of noise can easily result in the damage of our ear drums and loss of hearing. Health Issues: Excessive noise pollution in working areas such as offices, construction sites, bars and even in our homes can influence psychological health.

Studies show that the occurrence of aggressive behavior, disturbance of sleep, constant stress, fatigue and hypertension can be linked to excessive noise levels. Cardiovascular Issues: Blood pressure levels, cardio-vascular disease and stress related heart problems are on the rise. Studies suggest that high intensity noise causes high blood pressure and increases heart beat rate as it disrupts the normal blood flow. Sleeping Disorders: Loud noise can certainly hamper your sleeping pattern and may lead to irritation and uncomfortable situations.

Effect on Wildlife: Owls and bats are especially affected by plane and traffic noise, as it impacts their abilities to effectively hunt. Some scientists believe this could put these animals at risk of extinction. Animals develop a better sense of hearing than us since their survival depends on it. The ill effects of excessive noise begin at home. Pets react more aggressively in households where there is constant noise. They become disoriented more easily and face many behavioral problems. In nature, animals may suffer from hearing loss, which makes them easy prey and leads to dwindling populations.

Land pollution:

Land pollution, in other words, means degradation or destruction of earth’s surface and soil, directly or indirectly as a result of human activities. Anthropogenic activities are conducted citing development, and the same affects the land drastically, we witness land pollution; by drastic we are referring to any activity that lessens the quality and/or productivity of the land as an ideal place for agriculture, forestation, construction etc. The degradation of land that could be used constructively in other words is land pollution.

Land Pollution has led to a series of issues that we have come to realize in recent times, after decades of neglect. The increasing numbers of barren land plots and the decreasing numbers of forest cover is at an alarming ratio. Moreover the extension of cities and towns due to increasing population is leading to further exploitation of the land. Landfills and reclamations are being planned and executed to meet the increased demand of lands. This leads to further deterioration of land, and pollution caused by the land fill contents.

Also due to the lack of green cover, the land gets affected in several ways like soil erosion occurs washing away the fertile portions of the land. Causes of Land Pollution: Deforestation and soil erosion: Deforestation carried out to create dry lands is one of the major concerns. Land that is once converted into a dry or barren land can never be made fertile again, whatever the magnitude of measures to redeem it is. Land conversion, meaning the alteration or modification of the original properties of the land to make it use-worthy

for a specific purpose is another major cause. Agricultural activities: With growing human population, demand for food has increased considerably. Farmers often use highly toxic fertilizers and pesticides to get rid of insects, fungi and bacteria from their crops. However with the overuse of these chemicals, they result in contamination and poisoning of soil. Mining activities: During extraction and mining activities, several land spaces are created beneath the surface.

We constant hear about land caving in; this is nothing but nature’s way of filling the spaces left out after mining or extraction activity. Overcrowded landfills: Each household produces tones of garbage each year. Garbage like aluminum, plastic, paper, cloth, wood is collected and sent to the local recycling unit. Items that cannot be recycled become a part of the landfills that hampers the beauty of the city and cause land pollution. Effects of Land Pollution: Soil pollution: Soil pollution is another form of land pollution, where the upper layer of the soil is damaged.

This is caused by the overuse of chemical fertilizers, soil erosion caused by running water and other pest control measures; this leads to loss of fertile land for agriculture, forest cover, fodder patches for grazing etc. Change in climate patterns: The effects of land pollution are very hazardous and can lead to the loss of ecosystems. When land is polluted, it directly or indirectly affects the climate patterns. Environmental Impact: When deforestation is committed, the tree cover is compromised on. This leads to a steep imbalance in the rain cycle. A disturbed rain cycle affects a lot of factors.

To begin with, the green cover is reduced. Trees and plants help balance the atmosphere, without them we are subjected to various concerns like Global warming, the green house effect, irregular rainfall and flash floods among other imbalances. Effect on human health: The land when contaminated with toxic chemicals and pesticides lead to problem of skin cancer and human respiratory system. The toxic chemicals can reach our body through foods and vegetables that we eat as they are grown in polluted soil Cause Air pollution: Landfills across the city keep on growing due to increase in waste and are later burned which leads to air pollution.

They become home for rodents, mice etc which in turn transmit diseases. Distraction for Tourist: The city loses its attraction as tourist destination as landfills do not look good when you move around the city. It leads to loss of revenue for the state government. Effect on wildlife: The animal kingdom has suffered mostly in the past decades. They face a serious threat with regards to loss of habitat and natural environment. The constant human activity on land is leaving it polluted; forcing these species to move further away and adapt to new regions or die trying to adjust.

Several species are pushed to the verge of extinction, due to no homeland. Other issues that we face include increased temperature, unseasonal weather activity, acid rains etc. The discharge of chemicals on land makes it dangerous for the ecosystem too. These chemicals are consumed by the animals and plants and thereby make their way in the ecosystem. This process is called bio magnification and is a serious threat to the ecology.

Thermal Pollution:

It is caused by addition of hot effluents and hot water bodies. Warm water contains less oxygen. So there is decrease in rate of decomposition of organic matter. Green algae are replaced by less desirable blue green algae. Many animals fail to multiply. Trout eggs fail to hatch while salmon does not spawn at higher temperature. Thermal pollution is the rise or fall in the temperature of a natural body of water caused by human influence. A common cause of thermal pollution is the use of water as a coolant by power plants and industrial manufacturers.

When water used as a coolant is returned to the natural environment at a higher temperature the change in temperature impacts organisms by (a) decreasing oxygen supply, and (b) affecting ecosystem composition. Urban runoff--storm water discharged to surface waters from roads and parking lots--can also be a source of elevated water temperatures. Thermal pollution can also be caused by the release of very cold water from the base of reservoirs into warmer rivers.

This affects fish (particularly their eggs and larvae), macro invertebrates and river productivity. Effects of Thermal Pollution: Sudden and periodic increase in temperature producing a thermal effect Changed dissolved oxygen Changes to reproductive powers and increased susceptibility to disease Production of heat shock proteins for thermo tolerance. Changes in migration time and pattern may be affected. Decrease in productivity of the water body.

Radioactive pollution:

Radioactive pollution is created when radioactive byproducts of a nuclear reaction, either man-made or natural, are dumped in the environment or in the vicinity of human settlements. Nuclear power and research stations are the major contributors to man-made radioactive waste. These facilities bring about a nuclear reaction (usually fission) for the purpose of either production of energy (electricity) or research. When a heavy atom of a nuclear fuel, such as uranium, undergoes nuclear fission, it results into two daughter nuclei, both radioactive in their own rights.

These byproducts aren't reusable and thus have to be dumped. The introduction of these radioactive byproducts causes radioactive pollution. Effects of Radioactive pollution: The impact of radioactive pollution on human beings can vary from mild to fatal; the magnitude of the adverse effects largely depends on the level and duration of exposure to radioactivity. Low levels of localized exposure may only have a superficial effect and cause mild skin irritation.

Effects of long, but low-intensity exposures include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of hair, bruises due to subcutaneous bleeding etc. Long-term exposure or exposure to high amounts of radiation can have far more serious health effects. Radioactive rays can cause irreparable damage to DNA molecules and can lead to a life-threatening condition. Prolonged exposure leads to a large number of molecules in the body being ionized into free radicals. Free radicals promote the growth of cancerous cells, i. e. tumors, in the body.

People with heavy radiation exposure are at a very high risk for cancers.  The rapidly growing/dividing cells, like those of the skin, bone marrow, intestines, and gonads are more sensitive towards radioactive emissions. On the other hand, cells that do not undergo rapid cell division, such as bone cells and nervous cells aren't damaged so easily. Skin cancer, lung cancer and thyroid cancer are some of the common types of cancers caused by radiation.


Abating pollutions is an exceptionally important concern because of pollutions harmful effects on the health of human and other organisms. Many scientists and researchers have pointed out many ways to reduce pollution but some of our common concerns and practices can help to reduce pollution. Water & Air pollution: Using low phosphate level detergent.

Dispose off wastes like tissue papers by putting them in trash bins rather than flushing them down the drain. Plant more trees and use native plants. Do not keep the engine running at signals. This releases toxic chemicals in the air Avoid burning woods, leaves, trash and charcoal during ozone action days. Using public transportation for short local trips

Land pollution:
The greatest prevention to land pollution is in the three ‘R's’ … Reduce Waste, Re-use things and Recycle things. Buy products that have little packaging. Don’t dump motor oil on the ground.

Noise pollution:
Construction of soundproof rooms. Noise producing industries, airports, bus and transport terminals and railway stations to sighted far from where living places Vegetation (trees) along roads and in residential areas is a good way to reduce noise pollution as they absorb sound. Maintaining a sound environment is very important because polluted environment causes a long range of health problems, threatens the future of humans and hence, the future of our civilization. So we should share the responsibility to keep our environment as much pollution free as possible and thus reduce health risks.

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Health and Environment. (2016, Jul 16). Retrieved from

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