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Relationship between Environment and Health

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Human health and environment are closely related. In fact, human health is determined to a considerable extent by the quality of environment due to the permanent interaction that exists between man and his surrounding environment. The environment in which a person lives, works, and that in which he relaxes, determines the quality of health and well-being of an individual. Chemical, microbiological, and physical factors in the surrounding environment have a bearing in ones health; both mental and physical (Plant, 2012). This essay discusses the effect of environmental pollution on human health.

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Currently, several debates regarding the effects of environmental pollution on human health are ongoing across the world. Studies are being conducted to link increased hospital admissions, respiratory problems, morbidity, as well as mortality to increased concentration of pollutants in the environment. Brody (2002) notes that in the early days, people learned about the relationship between culture and environment from studies which were conducted on workers who were highly exposed or those from environmental disasters, for example atomic bombs. He argues that when exposes are high, the task of finding association between health and the poison in the environment is quite easy. This is possible due to the fact that highly poisonous environment produces strong effects which can be detected despite the myriad complication of the environment.

However, this is not the case where levels of pollution are low and several factors come into play. In fact, relationship between health and environment is extremely complex. Even though health complications are thought to be associated with increase in environmental pollution, it is quite challenging to ascertain the extent, the seriousness as well as the causes of environmental related diseases. In addition, causal connection between distribution of specific substances and health effects in most cases are hardly or not demonstrated (Plant, 2012).

Plant (2012) notes that most chemicals are harmful to human health if taken in or ingested in quantities that exceed their threshold in the body. Most of these chemicals find their way into the environment as man try to use them for other important reasons. However, their accumulation in the environment ultimately affects the health of the same people as they eventually find their way into the human system. According to Brody (2002), good number of chemicals have not yet been tested for carcinogenicity. However, among those that have been tested, more than 100 have been found to cause tumors in animals. This shows that the particular chemicals are dangerous to human health.

Pesticides are beneficial to men and are designed to kill insects, fungi and weeds. However, the use of pesticides in the environment is raising questions about its effect on human health. Research has shown that people living in places where there is high activity in the use of pesticides have high prevalence of diseases such as asthma, cancer, birth defects and neurological defects. Equally, exposure of women to their own estrogen increases breast cancer risk. Brody (2002) argues that if such natural hormones are dangerous, synthetic estrogen that mimic the natural one could more dangerous. Study done by Spring Life researches showed that some pesticides had estrogenic substances which are suspected as possible cause of breast cancer. The study revealed that most women in the area of study were suffering from breast cancer; a likelihood that this could be a result of heavy use of pesticide in the area.

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According to Plant (2012), it is possible to have indoor air contaminated by industrial emissions and other pollutants ranging from endocrine disrupting chemicals to volatile organic compounds. Most people in developed countries have up to 90 percent of their time spent indoors during which they come in contact with these airborne chemicals. Concentration of indoor pollutants usually increases due to reduced ventilation in addition to improved insulation. This will further endanger human life. Studies carried out by Spring Life researchers also showed that dust in air, and that in business and residential premises had chemicals such as phthalates. This is a chemical derived from plastics, like alkylphenols which is usually sound in detergents, and pesticides. The researchers sought to investigate chemicals found in indoor air that could be causative agents of mammary tumors in animals as well as those that disrupt human endocrine system. They found a high level of endocrine disruptors mostly from plastics and 12 different pesticides.

Heavy metals are other important health hazards were found to be pollutants in the environment. Metals such as mercury, lead, arsenic, as well as cadmium are dangerous as they are likely to cause nerve damage if ingested beyond the threshold dose. Studies have also reveled that one risks contracting lung cancer as well as other lung diseases as a result of exposure to soot contaminated air. Burning of coal, use of leaded gasoline, are contributors to heart diseases, asthma, and lung disorders (Plant, 2012).
Brody (2002) notes that a research conducted by United States Centers of Disease Control and the report released in March, 2002 to ascertain the level of pollution in the environment and consequences on human health, revealed that the nation’s population was exposed to 27 different chemicals which posed dander to their health. Such chemicals include: pesticides, phthalates, tobacco smoke, and heavy metals such mercury and lead. In order to solve this challenge, the government restricted smoking in public and directed removal of lead from gasoline. After the directive, the level of lead was found to have reduced in the blood of children.


With studies showing that there is decline in the level of health complications when particular emission of particular chemicals to the environment is reduced, is a fact that there is a relationship between human health and environment. It is therefore important that the government and health agencies review the existing public policies to minimize exposures to poisonous chemicals. This would help protect the life of the citizens and reduce medical expenses.

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