Life on this planet is interconnected. Nothing is isolated and everything has an impact on everything else. With concerns about climate change looming and becoming more immediate, we need to understand how our environment and health are connected. Below you will find some essays on the environment and human health that can help you in your examinations, assignments. Select any environment and human health essay you need from the ones given below.
Short and Long Essay on Environment and Human Health
Essay 1 (300 words)
The human tendency has always been to subjugate our surroundings. We take pleasure in conquering and reshaping our environment as though it is beneath us and we are supreme. However, the simple truth is that humans are as dependent upon the environment as any other animals on the planet for our continued well-being. Therefore, if we harm our environment, we harm ourselves.
Health and Environment
Our physical, mental and social well-being is dependent upon our surroundings. What we put into the ecosystem is eventually cycled back to us. The pollutants we discard into this ecosystem find their way back through the air we breathe, the food we consume and the water we drink. Since we discard these pollutants because they are harmful to us, it follows that when we inadvertently consume them afterwards, they will still have harmful effects on our health.
Problems with this have been going on for quite some time. We use pesticides on our food crops because the chemicals kill the pests that could destroy the crops. However, those pesticides remain on the food when we consume them causing health problems ranging from skin problems to cancer. The pesticides also reduce the fertility of the soil ensuring that the next crop isn’t as bountiful.
Similarly, we discard human and industrial waste into whatever water body is conveniently close. But we also use the same water bodies for drinking water. Water pollution leads to diseases such as diarrhoea, dysentery, lead poisoning, polio and arsenicosis amongst others. The air is also polluted by all the gaseous emissions our activities release. Ranging from smoke from fires to emissions from vehicles and industries, these pollutants cause respiratory disorders such as asthma and bronchitis and can even result in lung cancer.
Environmental scientists have been raising the alarm for some time, but things are very critical now. Our unchecked activities have had adverse effects on the ecosystem and some of that damage is now irreversible. If we do not step up to the plate, we will render the earth uninhabitable very soon.
Essay 2 (400 words)
As per the definition by WHO, “human health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”. This well-being does not happen in isolation; it is affected by internal as well as external factors. Internal factors include issues inside the human body such as immune deficiencies, hormonal imbalances and genetic or congenital disorders.
External factors generally include three types of health hazards: physical hazards such as ultraviolet and radioactive radiations, noise pollution, carbon monoxide and CFCs; chemical hazards such as industrial effluents, heavy metals, pesticides and fossil fuel combustion; and biological hazards such as parasites, bacteria and viruses.
This clearly means that our health is, to a great extent, dependent upon our environment and the environmental factors that affect human health are mostly created by humans. What we release into our eco-system eventually finds its way back to us.
How Environment Affects Human Health
Since we are completely dependent on the environment to survive, it is safe to say that any changes to the environment will impact human well-being. However, the actual relationship between these two is more complex than we believed and isn’t always easy to assess. The most obvious impacts that we have seen are from deteriorating water quality, air pollution and unsanitary conditions. Radiation poisoning too has deadly consequences for human health.
The response to these issues has been an overall attempt to clean up our ecosystem. While that has worked for some countries, mostly in the developed world, it hasn’t been applied thoroughly in the developing countries of the world. Bilateral and multilateral agreements between countries have managed to address some of the more immediate concerns such as the emission of CFCs into the atmosphere and the damage done to the ozone layer by them.
The corporate world is also trying to lessen its carbon footprint and turning to ‘green’ solutions. However, there are many concerns that have yet to be addressed and are spiralling out of control such as biodiversity; on an average, one species dies out every day. In addition, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain a proper supply of food so that the world doesn’t starve.
We are simply too well-woven into our surroundings to be immune to the effects of any changes in those surroundings. The problem is that because the relationship between health and environment is complex, we aren’t motivated to make major changes; we’re waiting for irrefutable evidence. By the time we do get it, it might be too late.
Essay 3 (500 words)
We are aware of the complex strands that bind us to our environment. We have already started noticing the difference in our health and how it is related to what we do to our environment. However, a point to consider is that if a bad environment can cause harm to human health, a good environment can actually nurture it.
Unhealthy Environment Unhealthy Life
A report jointly published by the United Nations Environment Programme, the WHO, the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Stockholm, Rotterdam and Basel conventions states that in the year 2012 alone, approximately 12.6 million people lost their lives due to conditions brought on by environmental pollution. UNEP also estimates that environmental degradation is behind 25 percent of all human diseases.
Environmental Pollution Impact
While environmental pollution may have an impact on everyone, research has shown that there are certain demographics that are more vulnerable to its effects – the young, the poor, women, the migrant workers and the elderly. In addition, diseases such as Ebola, Zika and SARS are emerging every few months and spreading because of overpopulation, too much livestock and the resultant environmental impact.
In order to stop the spread of these diseases, healthy ecosystems are essential. While tackling these diseases, such ecosystems can also bring about economic development, reduction of poverty, fewer risks to human well-being and the security of knowing that resources will not run out.
Increasingly, studies conducted on mental health are relating to good mental health with exposure to nature. These studies have linked reduction of the symptoms of anxiety and depression and lowered stress levels to the presence of green space close by. In fact, people who moved to urban areas that are greener were seen to have improved mental health.
Water Contamination Impact
This is another example of environmental pollution affecting those in the lower economic strata. In countries where the income levels are middle to low, unavailability of clean water is responsible for 58 percent of the diarrhoea cases. Contaminated water and poor hygiene and sanitation are responsible for the deaths of around 3.5 million people. They also cause the premature deaths of around 25 percent of children younger than 14 years of age.
Approach to Resolution
There are several areas of immediate concern, based on the connection between poor human health and environmental degradation. Some of them are:
- Ecosystems that have degraded and natural systems on earth that are under pressure, which are more likely to cause disasters such as disease outbreaks, scarcity of food and natural disasters.
- Insufficient sanitation, poor hygiene and unsafe water that are the causes of deadly diseases, poor mental health and even hit economic productivity badly.
- Poor nutrition combined with dropping levels of physical activity, leading to the spread of non-communicable diseases.
Directly or indirectly, a healthy environment means healthy people. This is not to say that disease and malnutrition will be eliminated entirely but the incidences of these occurrences will reduce and millions of human lives will not be lost every year.
Essay 4 (600 words)
Human health or human well-being is affected by two main factors – individual traits or internal factors and ecological well-being or external factors. However, most of the time, when research is conducted on the human health condition, these two factors are investigated in isolation from each other. If one truly wants to answer the question – how does the environment affect individual health – one has to look at both factors in tandem. This becomes especially important now in light of climate change warnings and governmental indifference to them.
Impact of Environment on Health
The drawback with health-related environmental studies or environment-related health studies being conducted, especially those in the West, have narrowed their focus to concentrate on specific allergenic, infectious or toxic agents. They aren’t focusing on broader issues that cover psychological and social impacts too.
Some researchers agree that when studying human health it is important to take into account the impact of the environment of the people being studied. That impact can be seen in the fact that health inequalities exist as per the geography. In fact, health is impacted by the social and physical environment.
Additional research has also shown that there is a direct relationship between people’s mental health and the prevalence of green spaces; the more proximity to the green space, the better the mental health.
Socioeconomic Differences in Environmental Impact
That the environment and human health are intertwined cannot be denied. However, that relationship works out differently in different places. In other words, depending upon where you are in the world, the immediate health concerns and the environmental factors affecting those concerns can be varied.
Developing countries tend to focus more on issues such as infant mortality, malnutrition and infectious diseases. The immediate environmental concerns in these countries are sanitation, hygiene, mining, ore processing, oil production and water quality. However, when one looks at developed nations, health concerns revolve around issues such as cancer, lung disease and heart disease. These countries have economies built around industries and those industries do not dispose of off their hazardous wastes responsibly, thereby contaminating nearby water bodies and soil.
Considering these factors, it is no wonder that emphasis is placed more on the diseases than on the causes behind those diseases. The causes vary; the diseases may not necessarily do so.
Examples of Environmental Impact on Health Globally
Unfortunately, there isn’t any part of the globe that is free of environmental damage, not even the Polar Regions. If one goes looking, one will almost always find health concerns related to those environmental issues. It doesn’t help that countries such as China and India are developing very quickly. Their pace is such that environmental concerns aren’t being able to keep up with development.
Untreated human waste, industrial effluents, agricultural runoff and just plain old dumping are playing havoc with the ecology in both countries. Then there are the eastern European countries, many of which are former Soviet Union states. Over the past decades, hazardous waste such as heavy metals and nitrates were dumped without any plan or precaution. The result is badly contaminated groundwater and surface water, not to mention the lowered quality of the soil.
Some action is being taken finally were in such regions are being identified and efforts have been made to remediate, reclaim and restore the soil and surface water in such places; the effort comes too late, however, for the population that has already been exposed to these contaminants.
If one really wants to know what the environmental impact on health looks like, they need to stop looking at it in terms of discrete bubbles. They must study health disorders from an individual as well as an environmental perspective.