Environment and Human Health

In the context of health and disease environment may be divided under two headings (i) External environment and (ii) Internal environment factors like air, water, earth and its various products etc. comprise the external environment whereas the blood with various components that includes in our body, hormones, our emotions constitute what we call internal environment.

Earth’s surface and the environment surrounding is important to human health. The nature of soil, water, air, temperature, wind, cloud, rainfall, humidity etc. determines man’s health and welfare. Pollution of the environment result from a wide range of human activities: uncontrolled disposal of human excreta and refuge, industrial discharges, smoke from coal or oil burning, fumes from motor vehicles, misuses or overuse of insecticides and fertilizers. Population explosion, results in malnutrition, over consumption of food causes obesity, diabetes and dental decay.
In both rural and urban areas of developing countries, the age old issues of access to safe water, poor domestic hygiene and dependence on traditional low grade fuels for cooking and heating continue to pose particular problems to the health of under privileged women. Rapid urbanization exposes women to other hazard in addition, such as inadequate housing, exploitative and employment. Exposures of women to pesticides and other toxins has not been addressed in depth.

Industrial expansion results into congestion. The pressure is building up on big cities in developed world. But the process is more complicated in third world countries. Congestion of cities leads primarily to air and water pollution that are starting points for many diseases. Due to congestion, the quality of air and water is greatly affected.

It is expected that in a decade or so, India would become increasingly industrial and there would be more people (about 75%) in urban areas. Slum settlements arise in metropolitan cities due to acute shortage of housing. Due to influx of rural poor in to urban areas in search of job, are not able to find a dwelling. The dwelling has no civic facilities of water supplies, drainage, roads, transport etc. which leads to many social evils and ill health. Slums are not only overcrowded but created social complications and health problems.

Slum dwellers face environmental, health, educational and cultural problems. Since there are no basic amenities of drinking water, sewage, bathrooms and latrines, there develop health hazards not only in slum dwellers but other people of urban areas.
The situation today is that more than one thousand million people-are trapped in the vicious circle of poverty disease, malnutrition. The environmental component in communicable diseases such as, malaria, filariasis, trypanosomiasis, and the efforts to control these diseases through environmental interventions have come for considerable attention. But the large sale use of pesticides to protect crops and kill disease carrying insects and the increasing use, particularly in developing countries of growth promoting substances have led to increasing concern about chronic toxic effects in human beings.

Apart from direct health effects of cooking fuels used by the poor these are indications that the growing scarcity of cooking affects the health of the poor in several indirect ways.

With the advance of civilization have come rising population, overcrowded cities and towns, choking the environmental sanitation. Industrial growth has contributed to all round pollution and so has done by various sources of energy production e.g. petrol, coal, nuclear material. The increasing use of chemical substances in the fields, factories and homes has added to the dangers of man’s environment.

Provisions of basic sanitary measures, especially the safe water supply and disposal of human excreta and other wastes are a top priority. The lack of basic environmental health, facilities and resultant cost in terms of sickness, health the world economic growth cannot be ignored. The study of man’s relationship with the various elements in the surroundings and the use of knowledge to prevent disease and promote health is presently is top priority. 

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