According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Studies’ (NIEHS) definition, “Environmental Health is the field of science that studies how the environment influences human health and disease. “Environment,” in this context, means things in the natural environment like air, water and soil, and also all the physical, chemical, biological and social features of our surroundings.
The man-made, or “built”, environment includes physical structures where people live and work such as homes, offices, schools, farms and factories, as well as community systems such as roads and transportation systems, land use practices and waste management. Consequences of human alteration to the natural environment, such as air pollution, are also parts of the man-made environment. The social environment encompasses lifestyle factors like diet and exercise, socioeconomic status, and other societal influences that may affect health. (p. 1) Environmental health care involves thought-out complex of measures directed to the creation of environment free of aggressive factors which may afflict one’s health and cause disease. Among these measures are maintenance of clean air, supply of safe and non-contaminated by infectious agents or toxins water and food, hygienic and prophylactic enterprises, housing and sanitation, protection of inhabited environment from pollution and adequate treatment of already polluted sites, which, in turn, prevents further exposure.
Every component of listed above is quite important separately, but provided as a complex pattern they create a really strong basement for individual and public health. In a modern world, it is hard to overestimate the impact of environmental factors over health and welfare of a man. Chalupka S. M. (2001) insists that “The environment is a primary determinant of health status of individuals and communities. Environmental hazards are widespread and poorly understood. ” (p. 137).
Complicated ecological problems that arose as a sad heritage of rapid industrial and agricultural progress and arms race of the twentieth century exert the great influence upon virtually every field of human activity. Water polluted with excess of chemical fertilizers, industrial and radioactive wastes, exhaustion of the soils, global warming and destruction of ozone layer are only the tip of the iceberg of consequences humanity has to face as a result of its irresponsibility. And these, often aggressive, environmental factors should be taken into account anyplace where the health of the population is important to some extent.
Model criteria that represent the scope of environmental influence on health of the population exist. Economical ones are persuasive enough. Chalupka S. (2005) demonstrated that “The annual cost of human exposure to outdoor air pollutants from all sources is estimated to be $40 to $50 billion. The death toll from exposure to particulate air pollution generated by motor vehicles, burning coal, fuel oil, and wood is estimated to be responsible for as many as 100,000 fatalities annually in the United States. ” (p. 29).
To avoid these material losses and casualties governments are forced to launch programs for environmental treatment and to provide adequate housing, sanitation and hygienic conditions to their citizens. Organisms of the children have yet unstable regulating systems and organs that just undergo the final phases of development and maturing, and, though, are especially sensitive to environmental factors. C. A. Mario-da-Silva and L. Fruchtengarten (2005) summarized the following: “There has been a growing concern in the last few years with the exposure of children to environmental chemicals.
Around 85,000 synthetic chemicals are produced today, and 2,800 of them are mass-produced. There is little knowledge regarding their effects on developing organisms. Children have a greater exposure to environmental pollutants than adults, because their metabolic needs and behaviors (e. g. : crawling, bringing objects to the mouth, playing closer to the ground) put them at special risk of contact with chemicals when they breathe, eat, drink or play.
Heavy metals, pesticides, persistent organic pollutants and, at home, environmental tobacco smoke have been associated with the increasing number of diseases such as asthma, neurodevelopment disorders and childhood cancer. ” (pp. 205-11) Exposure of a child causes development disorders and retardations, creates diatheses to severe diseases in adult life. (C. Wild, n. d. ) That’s why prevention and neutralization of disruptive influence of the aggressive environmental factors is a matter of great importance.
But to undertake effective prophylactic measures people have to understand specificities of the child’s organism functioning compared to the adult human. Doctors and nurses should have special trainings and develop special skills to provide pediatric health care of appropriate qualification. (L. E. McCurdy et al. , 2004) In order to ensure accessibility of the information from the field of environmental health to every person interested in this topic or engaged in health care industry, environmental health organizations like NIEHS exist.
These organizations also maintain ceaseless research work in order to deepen scientists’ understanding of interrelations between health, disease and environmental conditions, organize training courses for medical practitioners and nurses on purpose of raising their competency, and accomplish publication of medical, scientific and educational periodic press for the sake of popularization of environmental knowledge among the population. Being familiar with the perils of the three types of environment people will know better how to avoid or minimize hazardous impacts and to protect their health.