Environmental Health Issues

  • About the author: Georgia Kliff is a master in Literature at Maryland University. She is currently working as one of the best writers at the place where you can find how to write miscellaneous essays She also studies male psychology.

    Human exposure to environmental chemicals produces a wide range of adverse health effects. The economic developments of some sectors continue to increase the use of hazardous chemical agents; thus, the global community faces the levels that are beyond the recommended limit. Various regulatory agencies reduce vulnerability to chemical agents by setting standards to create safe working conditions and monitor the disposal. The paper focuses on the environmental health issues related to chemical agents. It is divided into four sections. The first one discusses the regulatory agencies that control chemical agents and environmental standards. The second part analyzes the factors that influence environmental health matters of diverse population. Thirdly, the paper examines the impact of environmental health issues related to chemical agents on the staff involved. Lastly, the essay outlines how different staffs are engaged in dealing with environmental health problems caused by dangerous substances.

    Keywords: hazard, environmental, health, chemicals

    Environmental Health Issues

    Introduction

    The economic developments of some sectors such as transport, agriculture, and industry have dramatically increased the use of chemical agents. Consequently, the exposure of people to the high amount of chemicals, in particular pesticides and heavy metals, beyond the recommended limits is a public health concern. Chemicals have both acute and chronic health effects (Frumkin, 2016). Thus, the management of harmful substances is the prerequisite for the protection of human health.

    Regulatory Agencies

    Environmental Protection Agency

    Various agencies handle federal regulation of chemical agents. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is one of the regulatory agencies that protect the environment. It performs a broad range of duties related to nature conservation including conducting studies on the causes and effects of environmental chemicals, regulating pollution and hazardous disposal of toxic substances, pesticides, and waste removal. The agency protects the environment from contamination stemming from chemical spills, pollution from industrial activities and illegal dumping (Frumkin, 2016). EPA’s work involves monitoring the levels of environmental chemicals and enforcement of rigid standards for chemical disposals. It regulates the management of dangerous substances particularly the use of pesticides on foodstuffs. Another role of EPA is to investigate the impact of increased greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere (Corn, 2012). The agency has far-reaching and lasting positive influence on efficient chemical screening aimed at protecting water resources and supplies.

    EPA works with the local and state governments to determine and enforce pollution levels, which are safe for human health. The agency has federal standards for air quality that controls the emission of hazardous chemicals from several sectors such as industry and transportation. Through these criteria, EPA decreases the exposure to risks of local communities by reducing disposal of chemicals.

    Occupational Health and Safety Administration

    The second agency is Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). Its role is to protect employees from their direct contacts with harmful chemicals. The agency sets limits on the recommended amount of certain chemicals that are safe for workers’ health (Villanueva et al., 2014). OSHA minimizes the exposure to hazardous substances through mandatory job safety standards. The latter establish the methods that employers should use to protect the staff from dangerous chemicals. The standards restrict the amount of chemicals employees can be exposed to; they require from employers to monitor perilous chemicals and introduce certain safe practices or equipment (Frumkin, 2016). OSHA demands the use of safety devices such as personal protective equipment to reduce the subjection to chemicals.

    Consumer Product Safety Administration

    Another regulatory agency is Consumer Product Safety Administration (CPSA). Its role is to ensure the safety of products to protect humans from unreasonable environmental risks and to help consumers make healthy choices. The agency prevents consumption of dangerous substances as well as requires safety information and arming on the labels of products. The agency has standards for testing and evaluating a broad range of goods. The standards provide manufacturers with guidelines for assurance of safety (Corn, 2012). Therefore, these measures protect the local community from the effects of poisonous substances by enhancing products’ safety.

    Factors Influencing Environmental Health

    A combination of factors affects individual health. Thus, several factors such as physical environment have a considerable impact on human health. Harmful substances, in particular pollution or proximity to toxic sites, and the access to unsafe foods negatively influence the public health. According to Corn (2012), physical environment largely shapes the population health. Moreover, it can lead to adverse health effects because of the unfavorable working conditions. Particulate matters cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. However, appropriate workplaces, fresh air, and safe water facilitate good health. Those who have more control over their working conditions are healthier than those who rely on the employers. The working environment, namely the exposure to hazardous chemical agents including mercury and lead, affects individual health and safety (Frumkin, 2016). Furthermore, heavy reliance on private automobile transportation enhances the adverse impact of air pollution on the population. Physical factors, particularly the environment in which people live have a significant influence on health.

    Behavioral factors are strong health determinants for individual’s environmental health. Individual behavioral characteristics may facilitate their vulnerability to toxic substances. Behaviors such as smoking intensify individual susceptibility to environmental chemicals. Smoking increase risk of the damaging effects of chemical agents (Villanueva et al., 2014). Asbestos toxicity is one of the documented examples of enhanced susceptibility associated with smoking.

    Individual response to stress contributed to greater effectiveness of environmental factors regarding health. Beliefs and attitudes influence human behavior and lifestyle thus impacting physical and mental conditions. Patterns of behaviors such as exposure to poisonous substances strongly affect human health. Cognitive factors are also of major importance. Individual attitudes and personality are responsible for stress-related illnesses. Negative emotional experiences accompanied by cognitive changes may increase an individual risk of encountering stress problems.

    Financial factors have a direct connection to human health. Adverse economic conditions, particularly poverty, exacerbates the consequence of environmental health risk factors. Therefore, individuals with low income lack sufficient resources and access to better working conditions that can negatively impact their health. The level of revenue and employment are closely linked to the well-being because having enough money improves living conditions. The economic factors are predictors of health outcomes and they considerably influence health behaviors. The lower the economic position of a population is the more difficult it is to engage in healthy behaviors (Corn, 2012). Therefore, those who are financially unstable face difficulties in accessing healthy foods and living in the safe environment.

    Impact of Environmental Health Issues on a Diverse Population

    Exposure to environmental chemicals leads to three categories of adverse health effects. Firstly, exogenous chemical agents may cause direct cellular damage such as cancer and neurodegenerative disorders. Secondly, toxic substances may distort the physiologic function of the body by interfering with normal development. Thirdly, direct contacts with chemicals may contribute to illnesses through the combination of cell damage and physiologic disruption (Villanueva et al., 2014). Some individual characteristics modify the health effects associated with environmental issues. Genetic factors may impact the health outcome of the vulnerability to chemical hazards. Physiologic functions determined by genetic peculiarities may increase individual susceptibility to the chemical risks. For example, slow lung clearance extends the time, which dangerous chemicals such as toxic dust particles stay on the airway mucosal lining. People may also have high gastrointestinal absorption of chemicals, namely mercury and lead due to the higher absorptive capacity. Furthermore, some individuals have low renal clearance, which reduces the rate of excretion of chemicals (Corn, 2012). Genetic differences control one’s susceptibility to environmental risks.

    Age determines individual vulnerability to environmental health issues associated with chemical hazards. According to Ferguson, Penney and Solo-Gabriele (2017), children are highly sensitive to environmental contaminants due to their biological systems. Besides, kids are in the active stage of growth. Therefore, their digestive, respiratory and immune systems are in the process of developing. Thus, they are disproportionately affected by unhealthy environment because they are close to the ground where most of the perilous chemical substances settle. Furthermore, the capacity to metabolize and excrete harmful chemical agents is lower in children as compared to adults. For instance, the young ones are less able to fight lead and organophosphates due to the lack of sufficient enzymes to metabolize or excrete them. Difficulties in metabolizing toxic substances may cause the accumulation of dangerous chemicals in storage tissues or organs in case of chronic exposure to these agents (Corn, 2012). The consequences of chronic exposure are observed several years later, especially in cancer development.

    Impact of Environmental Health Issues on the Staff

    The staff that deals with environmental chemicals is at high risk of exposure to hazardous substances. They perform their duties in stressful, unpleasant and dangerous circumstances. They are susceptible to menace in working conditions that are not safe for human health. Dangerous chemicals present health or physical threats to the environmental staff. Prolonged contact with toxic substances may lead to health issues such as respiratory diseases and cancer (Corn, 2012). Thus, the regulatory agencies should seek to hire employees with profound knowledge and those who received adequate training on how to avoid exposure to high levels of chemicals while assessing the environment.

    How the Staff is Involved in Addressing Environmental Health Issues

    Officers from various regulatory agencies participate in dealing with environmental health problems related to hazardous chemical exposure. They are responsible for protecting public health by enforcing legislations to reduce human susceptibility to chemicals and provide support in order to minimize safety and health risks. The environmental health staff addresses dangerous chemicals through a variety of activities such as inspection of foods and regulating chemical disposals. They also gather safety, health and exposure data needed to control vulnerability of individuals to toxic substances (Corn, 2012). They establish maximum allowable levels of each chemical to protect people from potential danger. The environmental staff also develop environmental regulatory programs to ensure that the released chemicals from different sectors meet the established standards or limits. It regulates the production and distribution of industrial and commercial chemicals to secure that certain substances do not pose a risk to humans (Frumkin, 2016). Furthermore, the staff involved in addressing environmental chemicals investigates threats in a wide variety of settings and take actions to reduce individual exposure by guaranteeing the maintenance of minimum standards set by the regulatory agencies.

    The exposure to chemical agents may cause adverse health effects. Many regulatory agencies monitor the environment by covering issues such as consumer protection and disposal of hazardous chemicals. The regulatory agencies have broad responsibilities of controlling the environment to enhance safety. Although the regulatory agencies have successfully decreased the disposal of dangerous substances to the environment, individual behaviors and other factors, namely genetic and financial ones, increase people’s susceptibility to environmental chemicals. The staff that address environmental chemicals is also at risk of vulnerability to high levels of dangerous substances. Nevertheless, more research is needed to investigate how regulatory agencies can tackle the environmental health problems related to chemical agents by focusing more on the individual factors.