The world around you has a significant impact on your health. From the air you breathe to the dirt on the ground, your environment can affect everything from your mood to your susceptibility to disease. Here are five ways your environment can affect your health.
1. Air Pollution
Air pollution is one of the most serious environmental threats to human health. Studies have shown that air pollution can cause a range of health problems, including asthma and lung diseases like emphysema. Air pollution is the fourth leading cause of preventable death in America, according to a report from the American Lung Association.
The air around you is filled with potentially harmful chemicals: For example, in one study done in 2009 and published in the journal Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, researchers found increases of lead and mercury levels in the hair of women residing near a metal sinterming plant.
Other common sources of air pollution include car exhaust, manufacturing plants, and power plants.
2. Polluted Water
Unsafe drinking water is a major global health threat, responsible for more than 1.5 million deaths each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Polluted water can cause a range of health problems, from diarrhea and vomiting to more serious illnesses like cholera and typhoid.
In the United States, about half of all waterborne illness is caused by Cryptosporidium, a parasite that can cause severe diarrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Other common contaminants in water include lead, arsenic, nitrates, chemicals, heavy metals, and microbes.
If you’re a victim of polluted water, an Environmental attorney can help you resolve any concerns you have, and help you save as much money as possible while doing so.
Dirt itself is not necessarily dangerous to your health, but it can carry harmful microorganisms that can make you sick. These organisms include bacteria, viruses, and fungi, all of which can cause a variety of diseases.
Some examples include the following:
Bacteria: Toxins produced by bacteria can cause food poisoning. It can also be passed from person to person through hand-to-mouth contact or close contact with an infected individual. Other disease-causing bacteria, such as salmonella and E. coli, may also contaminate water supplies, leading to waterborne illnesses.
Viruses: Viruses are the cause of many common diseases, including the flu, colds, and hepatitis. They can be transmitted through the air or by contact with contaminated surfaces.
Fungi: Fungi can cause a variety of skin infections, including athlete’s foot and ringworm. They can also cause lung infections, such as Aspergillosis.
Food that has been contaminated with harmful bacteria or other microorganisms can make you sick. Harmful organisms can be spread from food to person if the person eats without first thoroughly washing their hands, using clean utensils, or cooking foods to a safe temperature.
Food poisoning is a common type of foodborne illness, and it can be caused by a variety of bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.
Mold is a type of fungus that can grow on many surfaces, including food, clothing, damp carpets, and walls.
Mold spores are often found both indoors and outdoors—they can be transported by air or through contact with contaminated people, pets, or objects.
Indoors, mold growth is encouraged by leaks in roofs and walls, excess humidity, condensation on surfaces, furnishing near leaky windows or exterior walls, and malfunctioning ventilation systems.
Exposure to mold can cause a variety of health problems, including allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to mold. People with respiratory conditions like asthma can be especially sensitive to indoor mold growth that encourages the release of airborne irritants into the air.
Radiation is energy that travels through the air, or any other medium, in the form of waves or particles.
There are many sources of radiation, both natural and man-made. Some common sources of natural radiation include cosmic rays from outer space, radon gas from the earth’s crust, and uranium in soil and water.
Man-made sources of radiation include nuclear waste from power plants and nuclear weapons testing, medical procedures such as X-rays and CT scans, smoke detectors, microwave ovens, cell phones, and emitters for wireless communication networks.
Radiation is present in our environment in very small amounts that are not harmful to people. However, large doses of radiation received over a short period of time can be dangerous and even fatal.
Each of these environmental factors can have a serious impact on your health. By taking steps to reduce your exposure to them, you can help protect yourself and your family from potentially harmful effects.