The Fine Balance Between Health and Environment
Human beings are constantly utilising natural resources fuelling our production, consumption, creating wealth and contributing to our quality of life and well-being. Our level of consumption is taking a toll on our ecosystems’ capacity to provide for us in the future.
The environment affects our health in a variety of ways. The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that thirteen million deaths annually are attributed to environmental causes. Asthma rates are rising because of increasing air pollution and rises in malaria and cholera have been blamed on deteriorating ecosystems.
"By depleting the ecological infrastructure of our planet and increasing our pollution footprint, we incur an ever-growing cost in terms of human health and well-being," UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
According to the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, climate change over the decades has increased rates of allergies, asthma, heart disease and cancer, among other illnesses. Also, it is quite likely that, as global temperature rises, diseases that were previously found only in warmer areas of the world may show up increasingly in other, previously cooler areas, where people have not yet developed natural defenses against them.
Water pollution occurs when unwanted materials enter in to water, changes the quality of water and makes it harmful to the environment and human health. Discharge of domestic and industrial effluent wastes, leakage from water tanks, marine dumping and radioactive waste are major causes of water pollution. Heavy metals that are disposed off into various water bodies like lakes and rivers prove harmful to humans and animals. Toxins in industrial waste are the major cause of disease of the immune system, reproductive failure and acute poisoning. Safe drinking water is fundamental for human health all over the world. Being a universal solvent, water is a major source of infection. According to world health organization (WHO) 80% diseases are water borne.
Human health is affected by the direct damage of plants and animal nutrition. Water pollutants are killing sea weeds, marine birds and fishes that serve as food for humans. Insecticides like DDT concentration is increasing along the food chain. These insecticides are harmful for humans creating various diseases.
Our agricultural, industrial activities, mining operations, waste disposal methods and leaky storage tanks all contribute to hazardous substances in the air, soil and water.
What we do to our planet will determine whether we can go beyond and restore our health as well as for our future generations. If we don’t look at health from a ecosystem perspective – we may lose the trees before we have seen the forest, and the lifeline it holds for our health.
This article is just an introduction to the intrinsic bond we have with the environment around us, how our every action affects our health and environment. We will follow this with a series on specific topics like population, water, air and land.
eQui believes in healthy living and that all individuals must have access to good health.