Any person that follows current events knows that experts have attempted to bring awareness to the environmental health crisis for decades. An increase in natural disasters, pollution, and disproportionate environmental harm has sparked global attention from leading environmentalists, doctors, and leaders.
Thankfully, nonprofit and governmental organizations such as the International Life Sciences Institute advocate for human and environmental health both nationally and internationally. Organizations like this bring ecological professionals and experts together and help them foster awareness around the world of the importance of human and environmental health.
Simply put, their mission claims that a healthier environment leads to better human health for all. The effects of environmental pollutants, unsafe drinking water, and a loss of biodiversity on human health are threats merited for study.
Numerous studies have shown that environmental pollutants cause certain types of cancers, respiratory illness, and even heart disease. These conditions affect adults and children. More so, studies show that families that rely on polluting fuels and devices face higher rates of musculoskeletal injuries, burns, and poisonings.
Both outdoor and indoor air pollution causes millions of deaths each year due to an increase in stroke, lung cancer, respiratory infections, and heart disease. Environmental pollutants are particularly dangerous for at-risk populations that have pre-existing conditions and respiratory illnesses.
Internationally, the World Health Organization (WHO) claims that air pollutants kill about 7 million people annually worldwide, and 99% of the global population breathes in air considered hazardous. More so, countries with lower GDP and income suffer more than other countries. And, pregnant women and children are more likely to suffer from health complications due to pollutants.
Pollutants may also cause developmental delays, lower IQs, and behavioral problems in children. In adults, developing neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease increase upon exposure to pollutants.
Unsafe Drinking Water
Unsafe drinking water and consumption is another major issue concerning human and environmental health. Statistically, households with lower incomes tend to live in more polluted areas and consume unsafe drinking water.
Waste, sewage, and industrial pollutants tend to contaminate drinking water. In response, billions of people are at risk of contracting diseases like cholera and polio. WHO also asserts that at least 2 billion people worldwide drink water contaminated with feces. By 2025, WHO predicts that half of the global population will live in areas that utilize unsafe drinking water.
Where clean water is not available, handwashing becomes less of a priority and more difficult. In response, about 830 thousand individuals die annually due to diarrhoeal conditions rooted in unsafe drinking water and poor hand hygiene. Almost 300 thousand in this group are children.
Biodiversity refers to humans and wildlife on Earth, and refers to biological variety in all its forms, from vegetation to human civilization.
Biodiversity offers health, biological, and pharmacological benefits. In fact, most pharmacological and medicinal discoveries come from studying the world’s biodiversity. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, biodiversity loss impacts medicine efficiency and affects the nutritional value of the global food supply.
Since pollutants impact the natural environment and ecosystems, medicinal products, which overwhelmingly derive from plant species, are negatively impacted. An estimated 15 thousand plant species used in modern medicines are at risk of extinction. Every two years, at least one major drug is lost.
In terms of the nutritional value of food, human diets rely on 12 main crops and 5 animal species that comprise 75% of the world’s calories. Worldwide, malnutrition impacts 1 in 3 individuals. The nutritional loss of foods by pollutants causes many people to develop diabetes, heart disease, and other diet-related diseases.
The environment provides necessary goods and services that make human life go round. Stewarding and managing the environment is necessary for the well-being of communities worldwide. The degradation of the environment leads to unnecessary suffering and even death. However, as awareness spreads regarding the importance of environmental and human health, more and more individuals around the world will respond to make a change.