The term clean environment is somewhat vague and can be interpreted in many ways. A clean environment is not only necessary for aesthetic pleasure, but is essential in sustaining human health as well. The most widely known health impacts of the environment can be attributed to factors like pollution, climate change, ozone depletion, land degradation and the obvious loss of biodiversity. It is such factors that bring about the correlation between health issues and a clean environment.
Why look at environment and health?
There is increasing awareness that our health and the environment in which we live are closely linked, and in 2006 the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 24% of the global burden of disease was due to modifiable environmental factors. This growing awareness is reflected in recent health and environmental initiatives from governments and other organizations.
A lot has been said about the health issues brought about by poor indoor and outdoor quality, lack of sanitation, the use of hazardous chemicals and poor water quality as well. These are all factors that directly affect human health and are as a result of our poor efforts at maintaining and creating a clean environment.
Many blame the sorry state of the environment on the growing population, the projected increase from 6.8 billion to 9.2 billion by the 2050 means that we should expect worse days to come. This link between resource utilization and population is easy to follow, but is largely due to our lifestyles.
There is simply too much carbon dioxide production and this is all easily traced from sources, such as cars, detergents, pesticides, manufacturing and of course, the receding water levels.
Health and the Environment
While there are efforts to improve the environment, it is still shocking that preventable ailments and premature deaths still occur globally due an unclean environment and here’s proof:
- 3 million children lose their lives every year due to diarrhea, which is brought about by unclean water and poor sanitation
- Malaria still claims close to 3 million lives yearly
- Acute poisoning from pesticides affects between 3.5 and 5 million people in developing countries
- About 4 million children lose their lives to respiratory infections many of which are linked to poor indoor and outdoor air quality
While it’s clear that many of these health issues affect those in developing countries, environmental threats are everywhere and industrialization is now the major threat to a clean environment. Industrial pollution is now the leading cause of air pollution and toxic waste. In fact, statistics show that respiratory conditions, such as asthma, are becoming more prevalent in the developed world mainly due to environmental factors.
Environmental conditions that affect human health are manageable and even preventable with better environmental care and practices. A clean environment is not just the responsibility of your government, but falls upon us all. There are many advantages to having a clean environment and some of these include:
- Less communicable diseases
- Enhanced quality of life
- Better food quality
- Clean energy for future generations and more
Health and the environment affect us all, but it is the poor who are most affected and especially the children and women. While the health effects that have been brought about by global changes are quite easy to identify, many of us ignore them unless we are directly infected or affected.
Human health has always undergone threats from natural phenomena like draught, fire, flooding and others. This is however, being worsened by poor environmental management. Remember that good health and a clean environment coexist.
By Clifford Woods