What is Environmental HealthNow a day every one want to know about What is Environmental Health? The health and our environment are inextricably linked. The air we breathe, the water we drink, the working environment or the interior of the buildings have a large involvement in our welfare and our health. For this reason, the quality and health of our environment are vital for good health.

In recent years, we witness an increased concern of citizens before the possible health implications or problems arising from environmental catastrophes . Recall for example the mining accident Alnazcóllar, the sinking of the oil tanker “Prestige” off the coast of Galicia in November 2003, and other levels, concerns about potentially toxic materials in contact with water or food, emission antennas and mobile devices, etc..

The General Directorate of Environmental and Occupational Health , part of the General Directorate of Public Health, Quality and Innovation of the Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality , takes actions in surveillance, monitoring, updating and health defense against the aggressions of origin environment. Other key roles are legislative oversight, monitoring international agreements, and participation in international organizations (EU, WHO, UN, etc..)

According affirms the World Health Organization (WHO) in its definition of environment and health , within the concept 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 static in general, including housing, urban development, land use and transportation.

As can be seen, this is a very broad definition, but includes the main areas of Environmental Health .

Main health effects attributable to environmental factors.

Elaborating on the above, today there are a number of health effects that are suspected to be environmental factors, some examples:

  • The respiratory diseases , asthma and allergies, air pollution, indoors or outdoors.
  •  neurodevelopmental disorders , by heavy metals, POPs (Persistant Organic polutants, POPs) such as dioxins, PCBs and pesticides.
  • The childhood cancer for a number of physical, chemical and biological (eg., snuff smoke in the household, parental occupational exposure to solvents).
  • The exposure to smoke of snuff during pregnancy increases the risk of sudden death syndrome among infants of birth weight deficit, a reduced lung function, asthma, respiratory illness and middle ear infections.
  • The pesticides are probably an effect on immune status, disruption of the endocrine, neurotoxic disorders and cancer.
  • The ultraviolet radiation can suppress the immune response and is a major source of skin cancer.
  • Research shows that exposure to levels of noise or persistent high near schools can have a negative influence on school learning.

Our absolute dependence on the environment, makes us vulnerable to major environmental changes such as climate change , a process with important consequences on the health of the people, and set out in another section, can be a source of severe alteration in the ecosystem and on the health of human populations.

Cause-effect relationship in environmentally induced health problems. Complexity of the problem.

Establishing a causal link between a certain environmental factors and adverse health effects, poses many challenges. Some factors that hinder the approach to the study of these complex relationships are:

  • Variation of the various types of environmental load eg mixtures of pollutants to which we can see exposed daily
  • Different routes of exposure and potential health impacts.
  • Different degrees of condition as segments of the population and as the agent to be.
  • Mobility and bio-accumulation potential of many pollutants.
  • The multifactorial nature, possible indirect effects, chronic effects, queúnicamente disease can trigger long after exposure.
  • The need for the presence different combinations of elements such as genática predisposition, lifestyle, culture, socioeconomic factors, geographic location, climate and exposure to environmental stresses

All these factors contribute to make the work of epidemiologists and public health. Although our understanding of the complex links between environment and health are still inadequate, are increasing.

In view of the complexity of the interaction with the environment, states and the European Union are developing a European Strategy for Environment and Health (SCALE initiative).

Its main objectives are:

  • Reduce the disease burden caused by environmental factors in the EU.
  • Identify and prevent new health threats caused by environmental factors.
  • Facilitate the establishment of policies in this area in the EU.

This will facilitate the assessment of the overall environmental impact on human health, considering all the effects on it, such as the effect cocktail , combined exposure, cumulative effects, etc..,

Only sustainable development is compatible with the preservation of the health of people.

Children are the group most susceptible to the effects of the environment, so that many of the efforts within the policies are dedicated to safeguarding its development in a healthy environment.

It is planned to implement a National Action Plan on Health and Environment. Departments responsible for leading this initiative are the Ministries of Health, Social Services and Equality, and Agriculture, Food and Environment, which are working collaboratively on its development. The first step for processing in 2007 was the signing of a management agreement mandates of the Ministries of Health and of the Environment with the Carlos III Health Institute, which prepared a document for the development of a National Plan Health and Environment.

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