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Environmental Health Essay

Overcrowding: Overcrowding in houses can arise from several causes, and the physical and psychological effects on people living in overcrowded conditions can be quite severe. Overcrowding poses serious direct and indirect health risks to all segments of the population, particularly the elderly, young children, and the disabled. Overcrowding results in insufficient ventilation in homes, causing or exacerbating respiratory illness. Susceptibility to disease, the severity of diseases, the spreading of illness, and the mortality due to disease all increase as a result of social and physical overcrowding.

Overcrowding physically and emotionally overburdens mothers and other caregivers, increasing health risks of dependents. Lack of space and overcrowding directly impacts on the physical development and psychological wellbeing of disabled residents. Children living in overcrowded and unfit conditions are more likely to experience respiratory problems such as coughing and asthmatic and wheezing. For many children this means losing sleep, restricted physical activity, and missing school.

Effects of overcrowding include meningitis, tuberculosis, heart disease, stomach cancer, respiratory disease. Children in overcrowded housing are up to 10 times more likely to contract meningitis than children in general. Meningitis can be life threatening. Long-term effects of the disease include deafness, blindness and behavioural problems. Children in unfit and overcrowded homes miss school more frequently due to illnesses and infections. Overcrowding is linked to delayed cognitive development, and homelessness to delayed development in communication skills.

Urbanization: Movement of people from rural to urban areas with population growth equating to urban migration. It is a double edged sword as on one hand it provides people with varied opportunities and scope for economic development and on the other hand it exposes community to new threats. Unplanned urban growth is associated with environmental degradation meaning that population demands that go beyond the environmental service capacity, such as drinking water, sanitation, and waste disposal and treatment.

Rapid growth of urban centres has led to substandard housing on marginal land and overcrowding. Outbreaks of diseases transmitted through respiratory and faeco-oral route due to population density. It exacerbates health risks related to insufficient and poor water supply and poor sanitation systems. Lack of privacy leading to depression, anxiety, stress etc. Due to the numbers of motorized vehicles and industries in the cities of the developing world Problems of noise and air pollution arise. Air pollution can affect our health in many ways with both short-term and long-term effects.

Short-term air pollution can aggravate medical conditions like asthma and emphysema. Long-term health effects can include chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, heart disease, and even damage to other vital organs. Water pollution: Water pollution can come from a number of different sources. If the pollution comes from a single source, such as an oil spill, it is called point-source pollution. If the pollution comes from many sources, it is called nonpoint-source pollution. Most types of pollution affect the immediate area surrounding the source.

Sometimes the pollution may affect the environment hundreds of miles away from the source, such as nuclear waste, this is called trans boundary pollution. Industrial and agricultural work involves the use of many different chemicals that can run-off into water and pollute it. Metals and solvents from industrial work can pollute rivers and lakes. These are poisonous to many forms of aquatic life and may slow their development, make them infertile or even result in death. Pesticides are used in farming to control weeds, insects and fungi.

Run-offs of these pesticides can cause water pollution and poison aquatic life. Subsequently, birds, humans and other animals may be poisoned if they eat infected fish. Petroleum is another form of chemical pollutant that usually contaminates water through oil spills when a ship ruptures. Oil spills usually have only a localized effect on wildlife but can spread for miles. The oil cancause the death of many fish and stick to the feathers of seabirds causing them to lose the ability to fly.

Industry is a huge source of water pollution, it produces pollutants that are extremely harmful to people and the environment. Many industrial facilities use freshwater to carry away waste from the plant and into rivers, lakes and oceans. •Pollutants from industrial sources include: ? Asbestos – This pollutant is a serious health hazard and carcinogenic. Asbestos fibres can be inhaled and cause illnesses such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, lung cancer, intestinal cancer and liver cancer. ?Lead – This is a metallic element and can cause health and environmental problems. It is a non-biodegradable substance so is hard to clean up once the environment is contaminated.

Lead is harmful to the health of many animals, including humans, as it can inhibit the action of bodily enzymes. ?Mercury – This is a metallic element and can cause health and environmental problems. It is a non-biodegradable substance so is hard to clean up once the environment is contaminated. Mercury is also harmful to animal health as it can cause illness through mercury poisoning. ?Nitrates – The increased use of fertilisers means that nitrates are more often being washed from the soil and into rivers and lakes.

This can cause eutrophication, which can be very problematic to marine environments. ?Phosphates – The increased use of fertilisers means that phosphates are more often being washed from the soil and into rivers and lakes. This can cause eutrophication, which can be very problematic to marine environments. ?Sulphur – This is a non-metallic substance that is harmful for marine life. ?Oils – Oil does not dissolve in water, instead it forms a thick layer on the water surface. This can stop marine plants receiving enough light for photosynthesis.

It is also harmful for fish and marine birds. ?Petrochemicals – This is formed from gas or petrol and can be toxic to marine life. Carbon footprint: Man-made climate change, or global warming, is caused by the release of certain types of gas into the atmosphere. The dominant man-made greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2), which is emitted whenever we burn fossil fuels in homes, factories or power stations. But other greenhouse gases are also important. Methane (CH4), for example, which is emitted mainly by agriculture and landfill sites, is 25 times more potent per kilogram than CO2.

Even more potent but emitted in smaller quantities are nitrous oxide (N2O), which is about 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide and released mainly from industrial processes and farming, and refrigerant gases, which are typically several thousand times more potent than CO2. In the UK, the total impact on the climate breaks down like this: carbon dioxide (86%), methane (7%), nitrous oxide (6%) and refrigerant gases (1%). Given that a single item or activity can cause multiple different greenhouse gases to be emitted, each in different quantities, a carbon footprint if written out in full could get pretty confusing.

To avoid this, the convention is to express a carbon footprint in terms of carbon dioxide equivalent or CO2e. This means the total climate change impact of all the greenhouse gases caused by an item or activity rolled into one and expressed in terms of the amount of carbon dioxide that would have the same impact. Loss of biodiversity: Human activities are responsible for most of the loss in biodiversity throughout the world. With an increasing population, we are consuming more and more natural resources.. We do this by driving more, using more energy in our homes, and buying many more products than we need.

Biodiversity is important since it provides us with raw materials that we use to make products such as clothes, shoes and paper. And although we use many natural products and materials in our daily lives, we also use many human-made chemicals–cleaners, fertilizers, bug spray, pesticides, and many others. Even though we use them to help us, they have many side effects. Toxins and pollution are very harmful to biodiversity. The chemicals that we use end up in our waterways. Plants and animals are killed by oil spills. Wildlife gets caught in plastic trash.


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