Living on earth allows us to share everything we have or do. Thus, what happens in one area affects every other part, regardless of the distance between the affected area and its reverse side.
Introducing waste materials of all kinds into the environment negatively impacts the ecosystem which calls for a great concern.
This is what pollution does – to contaminate the earth with toxic matter. Many kinds of pollution exist, but the most impacting ones include air, water, and chemical.
The consequences range from light to extreme toxicity. We will review the effects of pollution on human health, its environmental risks, and how to reduce its impact.
What are the Effects of Different Kinds of Pollution on Health?
Does pollution affect humans, and how does it happen? Let us enumerate some of the consequences of releasing pollutants into the environment. Undoubtedly, humans are the cause of most pollution we experience.
The results keep getting more catastrophic in the form of global warming, increased lung diseases, contaminated land and sea animals, and more.
Air Pollution Effects
Releasing diverse chemicals through the burning of fossil fuels breeds air pollution. Since we cannot do without the air, we are forced to breathe in the contaminated air, adversely affecting our health.
Over 100 million years of healthy life are lost yearly through air pollution. Averagely, it equates to a year and eight months of healthy life lost for each person on earth. Air pollution is the world’s fourth fatal killer, causing over 8.9 million global deaths yearly.
In addition, air pollution from car exhausts alters chromosome structure in a fetus, causing a rise in the risk of cancer and congenital disabilities, etc.
It is also closely connected to climate change (CO2 emissions), which is majorly driven by burning fossil fuels, including gas, oil, and coal. Changing to greener alternatives like wind or solar power will reduce the effect. Other effects of air pollution include the risk of respiratory diseases, poison from eating contaminated food and drinking contaminated water, etc.
Water Pollution Effects
Water, like the air, is essential to our existence. We drink water and use it for crop irrigation. Also, sea animals’ survival depends on the safety of the water. We perform many activities in the water because we can’t do without it. Due to our direct contact with it, polluting and contaminating it is inevitable. Sadly, it affects our health and endangers our lives.
As a consumer society, our lives are powered by water. Whatever we eat, use, or buy requires water for its production. Global water demand is vast, with industries and manufacturing firms using the largest quantities, followed by electricity generation and domestic use. In addition, 280 billion of groundwater is polluted annually, which continues to increase as human activities rise.
With the invention of plastic, an increase in pollution escalated, as over two-thirds of plastic production ends up in the environment, including water bodies. At the same time, other hazardous materials like fertilizers are washed into the water. This becomes problematic because fish and other sea animals are adversely affected. Sadly, they end up in our bellies, contributing to health complications.
As a result, diseases such as typhoid, hookworm, amoebiasis, and blue baby syndrome (caused by nitrates in infant food) are rising.
Chemicals like heavy metals, mercury, pesticides, hydrocarbons, and lead washed into the water cause kidney, liver, heart, and nervous system damage, cancer, and death. A polluted water body can also cause hepatitis, skin rashes, vomiting, stomachaches, etc. There is an endless problem caused by water pollution.
Chemical pollution Effects
Production of synthetic chemicals globally is about 250 billion annually. Unfortunately, many of these chemicals end up in our bodies, and you don’t want to imagine the consequences. No wonder cancer and related diseases are on a rampage these days.
Besides, some chemicals that find their way into our bodies are the leading causes of brain and nervous system toxins, congenital disabilities, or abnormal development.
The combination of these toxic materials in the body is even more dangerous. The funniest aspect is that global chemical production will keep increasing as more companies are established.
Environmental Risks of Pollution on Human Health
These are dangers that likely impact the natural ecosystem, including the air, water, land, and biodiversity of a place. Such hazards could be natural, such as floods or tornadoes, or artificial, such as pollution.
- Managing Environmental Risks
Handling environmental risks is challenging, requiring putting together resources and expertise from major stakeholders, like government, community bodies, and businesses. First, they must identify and assess probable risks. Then, implement preventive and alleviative measures that help respond and recover from these incidents.
One challenge to managing environmental risks is that it is hard to predict their occurrence. Risks can come up from any angle, with hard-to-quantify impacts. Another challenge may erupt from social and economic impact, causing substantial damage to human health and compromising people’s livelihood. Thus, allocating resources and prioritizing risk management may be difficult.
It requires a holistic and adaptive approach that sees the whole picture of potential risks for effective risk management. Generally, everyone should be involved in managing environmental risks. As such, we can reduce the probability and impacts and safeguard the natural and future generations.
- How Environmental Factors Can Impact Personal Health
It should be every individual’s top priority to protect the environment from pollution. If not, environmental factors will continue to affect people’s health unfavorably. The impending effect of climate change should be our primary concern because it may lead to changes in disease patterns, causing people to be vulnerable to diverse diseases.
Climate change has been connected to the high rise in wildfires, floods, and storms. These can play a role in harming human health. Another issue of concern regarding environmental health is poor industrial hygiene.
Verywell Health states, “Many materials needed to advance industries and technology, like heavy metals or even some plastics, can also hurt the human body and even lead to serious medical conditions.” This is to say that industries that do not take human health seriously may destroy the natural world and impact our health and wellness.
- Environmental Health as a Community Health Concern
Environmental health is not limited to personal wellness. The community where we live should also be concerned. If the situations around our homes, workplaces, schools, and places of worship are not conducive, it can harm our families and neighbors.
An instance, if there is litter and pollution within the environment, it can prevent people from going out for outdoor activities, causing them to be more prone to diseases. Areas of the community with poorly maintained roads are also at risk of car accidents, and poor sanitation can lead to the predominance of diseases.
- Environmental Health Education and Advocacy
On the combat zones are public health professionals, saddled with the burden of informing the public about the environmental dynamics affecting personal health, community safety, and quality of life. They carry out this through instructive outreach and promotion. Thus, they inspire individuals and the public to take action to safeguard their immediate environment and family’s health and advocate for policies that promote environmental health.
How can we Prevent or Reduce the Effects of Pollution on Human Health?
Everyone should put the following measures in place to help promote a pollution-free environment:
At home and work:
- Dispose of unwanted medications properly.
- Make your own cleaning products by using less toxic ingredients.
- Reduce the impact of energy by turning off lights, equipment, and appliances when not in use.
- Repair or buy second-hand equipment and product to elongate their life.
At the garden:
- Consider soil test results, quality, and maintenance options before applying fertilizer.
- Minimize the need for pesticides by using integrated pest management to control pests.
- Lower your dependence on chemical fertilizers and irrigation.
- Reduce overwatering and other misdirected watering practices to avoid polluted water running off to nearby streams and lakes.
- Compost and add food waste to your garden to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance soil productivity.
At the store:
- Read labels and select only the least toxic products to mitigate household harmful waste.
- Buy items in bulk to lower packaging and food waste.
- Choose reusable items like utensils, straws, and mugs.
On the go:
- When not driving the car, put off everything.
- Try to walk or ride a bike for a shorter trip to encourage a pollution-free mode of transportation.
- Wash your car in a commercial carwash facility where wastewater can be recycled or properly disposed of.
- Try not to litter the environment because rain and wind can carry them and deposit them into lakes and other water bodies.
Clean Air and Water are Fundamental to Human Health
Regarding the preservation of human health, it is vital to prioritize access to clean air and water. Polluted water and air affect people’s health badly.
We must safeguard the most vulnerable group among us and not undermine the effect of pollution on human health. Together, we can protect our valuable resources by militating against activities that result in air or water pollution.
Conclusion on the Effects of Pollution on Human Health and Prevention
We dwell in an ecosystem (environment) where one’s actions can affect others tremendously. In our activities, we have made mistakes that have polluted the ecosystem. And it is glaring to the eyes what the effects of pollution on human health are.
Thankfully, we are waking up to it. Hence, all hands should be on deck in reversing this damage. Every little effort you make counts and can start a remedial ripple effect.
Let us come together to salvage what is left of our natural resources while making the world a good place for the future.