Environmental health

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

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Conceptual Map[edit | edit source]

Conceptual map illustrating the connections from and to environmental health.

Connections to Environmnental Health[edit | edit source]

Description[edit | edit source]

Environmental Health is the branch of public health concerned with all aspects of the natural and built environment affecting human health. Environmental health focuses on the natural and built environments for the benefit of human health. The major subdisciplines of environmental health are: environmental science; environmental and occupational medicine, toxicology and environmental epidemiology.

Other terms referring to or concerning environmental health are environmental public health, and health protection.

EPI Environmental Health Objective[edit | edit source]

Environmental health indicator - 2016

EPI Environmental Health Indicators[edit | edit source]

Environmental health indicator (2016). It consists of 3 categories:

  • health impacts,
  • air quality, and
  • water and sanitation.

The health impacts category includes the environmental risk exposure indicator.

Learning Activities[edit | edit source]

  • Analyze the conceptual map above and identify and a specific use-case of your choice (e.g. pollution in specific areas) and derive the relevant aspects of your selected topic according to nonhuman nature, ecosystem services, environmental justice, environmental ethics and public health benefits,
  • Identify the link between Climate Change and Environmental Health. Find evidence for your links in peer-reviewed journals. Take a look on the environmental concerns first and analyze where climate change has an impact on environmental health.

Definitions[edit | edit source]

Environmental health was defined in a 1989 document by the World Health Organization (WHO) as: Those aspects of human health and disease that are determined by factors in the environment. It is also referred to the theory and practice of accessing and controlling factors in the environment that can potentially affect health.

WHO - Environmental Health[edit | edit source]

Environmental health as used by the WHO (World Health Organization) Regional Office for Europe, includes both the direct pathological effects of chemicals, radiation and some biological agents, and the effects (often indirect) on health and well being of the broad physical, psychological, social and cultural environment, which includes housing, urban development, land use and transport.[1]

Physical, chemical, and biological Factors[edit | edit source]

As of 2016 the WHO website on environmental health states "Environmental health addresses all the physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person, and all the related factors impacting behaviours. It encompasses the assessment and control of those environmental factors that can potentially affect health. It is targeted towards preventing disease and creating health-supportive environments. This definition excludes behaviour not related to environment, as well as behaviour related to the social and cultural environment, as well as genetics."[2]

Environmental Health Services[edit | edit source]

The WHO has also defined environmental health services as "those services which implement environmental health policies through monitoring and control activities. They also carry out that role by promoting the improvement of environmental parameters and by encouraging the use of environmentally friendly and healthy technologies and behaviors. They also have a leading role in developing and suggesting new policy areas."[3][4]

Environmental Medicine[edit | edit source]

The term environmental medicine may be seen as a medical specialty, or branch of the broader field of environmental health.[5][6] Terminology is not fully established, and in many European countries they are used interchangeably.[7]

Children's environmental health[edit | edit source]

Children's environmental health is the academic discipline that studies how environmental exposures in early life—chemical, nutritional, and social—influence health and development in childhood and across the entire human life span.[8]

Disciplines[edit | edit source]

Five basic disciplines generally contribute to the field of environmental health:

Each of these five disciplines contributes different information to describe problems and solutions in environmental health. However, there is some overlap among them.

Environmental epidemiology[edit | edit source]

Environmental epidemiology studies the relationship between environmental exposures (including exposure to chemicals, radiation, microbiological agents, etc.) and human health. Observational studies, which simply observe exposures that people have already experienced, are common in environmental epidemiology because humans cannot ethically be exposed to agents that are known or suspected to cause disease. While the inability to use experimental study designs is a limitation of environmental epidemiology, this discipline directly observes effects on human health rather than estimating effects from animal studies.[9]

Definition - Environmental epidemiology[edit | edit source]

Environmental epidemiology is the study of the effect on human health of physical, biologic, and chemical factors in the external environment, broadly conceived. Also, examining specific populations or communities exposed to different ambient environments, Epidemiology in our environment aims to clarify the relationship that exist between physical, biologic or chemical factors and human health.[10]

Toxicology[edit | edit source]

Toxicology studies how environmental exposures lead to specific health outcomes, generally in animals, as a means to understand possible health outcomes in humans. Toxicology has the advantage of being able to conduct randomized controlled trials and other experimental studies because they can use animal subjects. However, there are many differences in animal and human biology, and there can be a lot of uncertainty when interpreting the results of animal studies for their implications for human health.[11]

Exposure science[edit | edit source]

Exposure science studies human exposure to environmental contaminants by both identifying and quantifying exposures. Exposure science can be used to support environmental epidemiology by better describing environmental exposures that may lead to a particular health outcome, identify common exposures whose health outcomes may be better understood through a toxicology study, or can be used in a risk assessment to determine whether current levels of exposure might exceed recommended levels. Exposure science has the advantage of being able to very accurately quantify exposures to specific chemicals, but it does not generate any information about health outcomes like environmental epidemiology or toxicology.[12]

Environmental engineering[edit | edit source]

Environmental engineering applies scientific and engineering principles for protection of human populations from the effects of adverse environmental factors; protection of environments from potentially deleterious effects of natural and human activities; and general improvement of environmental quality.[13]

Environmental law[edit | edit source]

Environmental law includes the network of treaties, statutes, regulations, common and customary laws addressing the effects of human activity on the natural environment.[14][citation needed]

Link to Risk Management[edit | edit source]

Information from epidemiology, toxicology, and exposure science can be combined to conduct a risk assessment and risk management for specific chemicals, mixtures of chemicals or other risk factors to determine whether an exposure poses significant risk to human health (exposure would likely result in the development of pollution-related diseases). This can in turn be used to develop and implement environmental health policy that, for example, regulates chemical emissions, or imposes standards for proper sanitation.[15]

Link to Engineering[edit | edit source]

Actions of engineering and law can be combined to provide risk management to minimize, monitor, and otherwise manage the impact of exposure to protect human health to achieve the objectives of environmental health policy.

Concerns[edit | edit source]

Environmental health addresses all human-health-related aspects of

  • the natural environment and
  • the built environment.

Environmental health concerns 1[edit | edit source]

Environmental health concern - Racism 2[edit | edit source]

Environmental racism, wherein certain groups of people can be put at higher risk for environmental hazards, such as air, soil, and water pollution. This often happens due to marginalization, economic and political processes, and ultimately, racism. Environmental racism disproportionately affects different groups globally, however generally the most marginalized groups of any given region/nation.

Environmental health concerns 3[edit | edit source]

Environmental health concerns 4[edit | edit source]

Environmental health concerns 5[edit | edit source]

Environmental health concerns 6[edit | edit source]

Environmental health concerns 7[edit | edit source]

Environmental health concerns 8[edit | edit source]

According to recent estimates, about 5 to 10% of Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost are due to environmental causes in Europe. By far the most important factor is fine particulate matter pollution in urban air.[17] Similarly, environmental exposures have been estimated to contribute to 4.9 million (8.7%) deaths and 86 million (5.7%) DALYs globally.[18] In the United States, Superfund sites created by various companies have been found to be hazardous to human and environmental health in nearby communities. It was this perceived threat, raising the specter of miscarriages, mutations, birth defects, and cancers that most frightened the public.[19]

Information[edit | edit source]

The Toxicology and Environmental Health Information Program (TEHIP)[20] is a comprehensive toxicology and environmental health web site, that includes open access to resources produced by US government agencies and organizations, and is maintained under the umbrella of the Specialized Information Service at the United States National Library of Medicine. TEHIP includes links to technical databases, bibliographies, tutorials, and consumer-oriented resources. TEHIP is responsible for the Toxicology Data Network (TOXNET),[21] an integrated system of toxicology and environmental health databases including the Hazardous Substances Data Bank, that are open access, i.e. available free of charge. TOXNET was retired in 2019.[22]

Mapping[edit | edit source]

There are many environmental health mapping tools. TOXMAP is a geographic information system (GIS) from the Division of Specialized Information Services[23] of the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM) that uses maps of the United States to help users visually explore data from the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Toxics Release Inventory and Superfund Basic Research Programs. TOXMAP is a resource funded by the US federal government. TOXMAP's chemical and environmental health information is taken from the NLM's Toxicology Data Network (TOXNET)[24] and PubMed, and from other authoritative sources.

Environmental health profession[edit | edit source]

Environmental health professionals may be known as environmental health officers, public health inspectors, environmental health specialists or environmental health practitioners. Researchers and policy-makers also play important roles in how environmental health is practiced in the field. Physicians and veterinarians are involved in environmental health[25]. In the United Kingdom, practitioners must have a graduate degree in environmental health and be certified and registered with the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health or the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland.[26] In Canada, practitioners in environmental health are required to obtain an approved bachelor's degree in environmental health along with the national professional certificate, the Certificate in Public Health Inspection (Canada), CPHI(C).[27]

Scope of Environmental Health[edit | edit source]

California state law defines the scope of practice of environmental health as follows:[28]

"Scope of practice in environmental health" means the practice of environmental health by registered environmental health specialists in the public and private sector within the meaning of this article and includes, but is not limited to, organization, management, education, enforcement, consultation, and emergency response for the purpose of prevention of environmental health hazards and the promotion and protection of the public health and the environment in the following areas: food protection; housing; institutional environmental health; land use; community noise control; recreational swimming areas and waters; electromagnetic radiation control; solid, liquid, and hazardous materials management; underground storage tank control; onsite septic systems; vector control; drinking water quality; water sanitation; emergency preparedness; and milk and dairy sanitation pursuant to Section 33113 of the Food and Agricultural Code.

Modern-day Roots of Environmental Health[edit | edit source]

The environmental health profession had its modern-day roots in the sanitary and public health movement of the United Kingdom. This was epitomized by Sir Edwin Chadwick, who was instrumental in the repeal of the poor laws, and in 1884 was the founding president of the Association of Public Sanitary Inspectors, now called the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.[citation needed]

See also[edit | edit source]

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Andrew M. Pope; David P. Rall (1995). Committee on Curriculum Development in Environmental Medicine at the Institute of Medicine. ed. Environmental Medicine – Integrating a Missing Element into Medical Education. National Academies Press. ISBN 0309051401. http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=4795. 
  • Lifestyle factors that can induce an independent and persistent low-grade systemic inflammatory response: a wholistic approach George Vrousgos, N.D. – Southern Cross University
  • Kate Davies (2013). The Rise of the U.S. Environmental Health Movement. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 978-1442221376. https://archive.org/details/riseofusenvironm0000davi. 
  • White, Franklin; Stallones, Lorann; Last, John M. (2013). Global Public Health: Ecological Foundations. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-975190-7. https://books.google.com/books?id=iE8SXPGGbeMC. 
  • Jouko Tuomisto (2005). "Arsenic to zoonoses – One hundred questions about the environment and health". Terveyden ja hyvinvoinnin laitos (National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland). Archived from the original on 2015-01-15. Retrieved 10 January 2015.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Novice, Robert, ed. (1999-03-29). "Overview of the environment and health in Europe in the 1990s" (PDF). World Health Organization.
  2. WHO (n.d.). "Health topics: Environmental health". Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  3. Brooks Bryan, W, Gerding Justin, A, Landeen, E, et al. Environmental health practice challenges and research needs for U.S. Health Departments. Environ Health Perspect. 2019;127:125001.
  4. MacArthur, I, Bonnefoy, X. Environmental health services in Europe 1. An overview of practice in the 1990s. WHO Reg Publ Eur Ser. 1997
  5. "Experts See Growing Importance of Adding Environmental Health Content to Medical School Curricula". AAMC. Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  6. Schwartz, Brian S.; Rischitelli, Gary; Hu, Howard (September 2005). "Editorial: The Future of Environmental Medicine in Environmental Health Perspectives: Where Should We Be Headed?". Environmental Health Perspectives 113 (9): A574–A576. doi:10.1289/ehp.113-1280414. ISSN 0091-6765. PMID 16140601. PMC 1280414. //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1280414/. 
  7. "environmental medicine — European Environment Agency". www.eea.europa.eu. Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  8. Landrigan PL and Etzel RA. (2014). Textbook of Children's Environmental Health. New York: Oxford University Press - lSBN=9780199929573. pp. 3. 
  9. Epidemiology, National Research Council (US) Committee on Environmental; Sciences, National Research Council (US) Commission on Life (1997). Environmental Epidemiology: The Context (in en). National Academies Press (US). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK233640/. 
  10. National Research Council (US) Committee on Environmental Epidemiology (1991-01-01). Environmental Epidemiology, Volume 1. doi:10.17226/1802. ISBN 978-0-309-04496-7. http://dx.doi.org/10.17226/1802. 
  11. "Toxicology". National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  12. "Exposure Science". National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  13. "Environmental Engineers : Occupational Outlook Handbook: : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics". www.bls.gov. Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  14. "Environmental law". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2021-08-02.
  15. Environmental Health: from Global to Local (2 Editor= Howard Frumkin ed.). San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons. 2010. ISBN 9780470567760. https://books.google.com/books?id=uTgSBW8jE8QC&q=environmental+health+from+global+to+local+by+howard+frumkin&pg=PP1. 
  16. Krystosik, A., Njoroge, G., Odhiambo, L., Forsyth, J. E., Mutuku, F., & LaBeaud, A. D. (2020). Solid wastes provide breeding sites, burrows, and food for biological disease vectors, and urban zoonotic reservoirs: a call to action for solutions-based research. Frontiers in public health, 405.
  17. National and regional story (Netherlands) – Environmental burden of disease in Europe: the Abode project. EEA.
  18. "Knows and unknowns on burden of disease due to chemicals: a systematic review". Press-Ustinov, A., et al. 2011. Environmental Health 10:9.
  19. Schleicher, D. (1995). "Superfund’s Abandoned Hazardous Waste Sites". In A. Wildavsky (Ed.), But Is it True?: A Citizen’s Guide to Environmental Health and Safety Issues (153–184) . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press Template:ISBN?
  20. "TEHIP". United States National Library of Medicine.
  21. "TOXNET". United States National Library of Medicine. Archived from the original on 2019-06-11. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
  22. "TOXNET Update: New Locations for TOXNET Content". www.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 2022-04-01.
  23. sis.nlm.nih.gov
  24. "toxnet.nlm.nih.gov". Archived from the original on 2019-06-11. Retrieved 2010-03-09.
  25. Cipolla, M., Bonizzi, L., & Zecconi, A. (2015). From “One Health” to “One Communication”: the contribution of communication in veterinary medicine to public health. Veterinary sciences, 2(3), 135-149.
  26. "Job Profiles: Environmental health officer". National Careers Service (UK). Retrieved 17 August 2014.
  27. "Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors". Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  28. California Health and Safety Code, section 106615(e)

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