Over the past centuries, human activity has spread to the surface of the entire planet. It has caused serious environmental pollution, negatively affected the ecology and life of people.
What environmental factors affect health?
Let us consider in more detail the influence of the environment on human health. The increase in the number of inhabitants of the planet, the active development of industry in various fields and agriculture, as well as the negligent attitude of society towards ecology, leads to a number of sad consequences. These include the deterioration of fertility and soil destruction, air and water pollution, the death of representatives of flora and fauna. Because of this, biological species disappear, and the level of health of the population falls annually. According to WHO, environmental factors have a negative impact on human health and reduce life expectancy. A quarter of all deaths are due to environmental risks. Let us examine in detail the main environmental factors and how they affect the population.
Due to the increase in the number of factories, plants, energy systems, and transport, the influence of anthropogenic pollution multiplies many times. Industrial emissions, carbon, nitrogen, sulfur oxide and other harmful substances, which clog it and negatively affect all living things, enter the atmosphere. Polluted air contributes to the emergence and development of major non-communicable diseases – chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, coronary heart disease. Sometimes, some substances released in conjunction with others lead to serious health consequences. Much depends on the duration of their effects on the body.
Emissions of sulfur gas and its derivatives cause damage to the respiratory system, violate the metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates in the human body, thereby reducing resistance to infectious agents. Lead compounds that are emitted by vehicles negatively affect the health – as a result, people suffer from diseases of the nervous system, infertility, anemia. The abundance of dust in the air leads to allergic reactions. The atmosphere was contaminated with radioactive emissions due to amid explosions of atomic bombs and power plants. As a result of radiation, the population has serious health problems – radiation sickness, the number of oncological diseases is growing. Radiation destroys the human body, deforms the DNA of cells, causes mutations at the genetic level. People whose work includes contact with asbestos are more susceptible to oncology of the bronchi and diaphragm. Beryllium negatively affects the respiratory organs, leading to eye and skin diseases. Mercury vapor interferes with the normal functioning of the kidneys and central nervous system. The ability of mercury to accumulate in the human body causes mental abnormalities. Industrial enterprises located in the city create an unfavorable environment for people’s lives. Metallurgical, coal mining and processing enterprises are sources of powerful emissions of harmful substances into the atmosphere. They act on the human body in contact with the surface of the skin or mucous membranes.
In addition to the respiratory system, vision and smell are affected. Air polluted with harmful substances causes respiratory irritation and asthma, negatively affects general health. The population in such areas often complains of headaches, weakness, decreased performance.
Pure water is vital to maintaining the normal functioning of all the functions of the human body. The greatest danger to the population today is its pollution, which causes deviations of the natural composition. Clouding, heating, the presence of rotting elements, and emissions of industrial waste leads to a decrease in water quality. Wastewater contains oil products, acids, alkalis, chlorine, and others. Mineral fertilizers and herbicides also adversely affect the body of water.
Various epidemics of infectious intestinal pathogens are associated with the water factor – dysentery, leptospirosis, infectious hepatitis. The main source of microorganisms is domestic wastewater. Feces entering the water significantly reduce its quality.
Active growth of cities and population leads to an increase in the number of drains into water bodies, including those that are used as reserves of drinking water. Biological treatment does not bring the proper result and does not reduce the number of microbes – their disinfection is necessary. If it is absent, intestinal pathogens remain in the reservoirs, which eventually enter the human body. The most polluted sources include rivers, lakes, ponds and other enclosed bodies of water. Chemicals discharged into them alter the environment. This action leads to the unsuitability of water for human consumption. The water supply of settlements is carried out through rivers. Their purification from mineral and organic impurities is a difficult and expensive process. As a result, people’s health is at risk due to the ingestion of these substances.
There are four types of harmful substances that enter the water:
- pathogens – salmonella, dysentery;
- organic compounds – solvents, pesticides;
- inorganic compounds – lead, arsenic;
- radioactive elements.
The first microbes cause obvious symptoms of malaise in a matter of hours after drinking contaminated water. People experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal colic. The following three types of substances do not manifest themselves so quickly after entering the body – they accumulate over time, causing cancer or abnormalities in the thyroid gland. The main recommendation for the population to avoid the consequences of drinking dirty water is to install a cleaning multi-stage filter.
Environmental pollution by industrial enterprises, agriculture and household buildings extend to the soil layer. The organic composition of the soil includes animal or plant decomposition products, organic acids, carbons, and proteins. The soil is the home of living organisms that are involved in the process of soil formation. Vegetation, in turn, absorbs substances from the soil. Then they enter the human body with food. The accumulation of pesticides and the uncontrolled use of mineral fertilizers, radioactive releases that can linger in soils, pathogens that fall not only into the water but also into the earth – all this causes a lot of negative health effects such as cancerous tumors, helminths, intestinal infections. Some pathogens are able to live in the land for decades – tetanus, gangrene, botulism.
There is a concept of indirect effects of soil pollution on the population. This includes land degradation and declining fertility. As a result, people face an exacerbation of the food problem. The main factors of its occurrence include the ingress of industrial waste, garbage into the soil, and destruction during construction and mining operations.
Information pollution and its impact imply noise levels that increase annually. It is especially high in large industries, where it reaches 100 decibels with an acceptable level of 70. The continuous effect of noise on the human body reduces hearing sensitivity and leads to other consequences – a persistent ringing in the ears, dizziness, migraines, hypertension, and others. These changes are not immediately noticeable. A loud noise prevents people from resting, restoring strength, and causing sleep disturbances. As a result of the constant lack of sleep, a person has a permanent feeling of fatigue and nervous disorders. Noise pollution takes the 3rd place in terms of negative impact on the environment and the population. Protecting humanity from loud noises escalates into a problem of maintaining health. Noise environment is particularly negative in megacities and large cities. The main sources of vibration in them are vehicles – trains, subways, trams, trolleybuses.
Scientific and technological progress brought the population not only many positive aspects but also negative ones. Modern achievements bring irreparable harm to the body. In order to change the situation in a positive direction, a person must adhere to the following rules:
- protect areas;
- monitor the state of the water area, limit emissions of waste and wastewater, increase the level of treatment;
- fight atmospheric pollution;
- rational use of fresh water;
- focus on the recycling and disposal of waste.
The main source of biosphere pollution is human activity. But its influence on the outside world can be not only negative but also positive. The main thing to remember is that health is originally given by nature. You can preserve both your health and the environment in good condition.