Environmental Health - PDF by sharmapd1

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Environmental health is the branch of public health that is concerned with all aspects of the natural and built environment that may affect human health.

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									Environmental Health
Author: Partha Das Sharma, (E.mail: sharmapd1@gmail.com) Website: http://saferenvironment.wordpress.com

Environmental Health – Definition
Environmental health is the branch of public health that is concerned with all aspects of the natural and built environment that may affect human health. It also refers to the theory and practice of assessing and controlling factors in the environment that can potentially affect health.
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Environmental Media
There are four types of environmental media

Air Water Soil Food

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The Media of Environmental Hazards
Air, water and food are the major environmental media or vectors through which exposure to hazardous environmental agents occur. Disease Vectors - mosquitoes, rats, birds Additionally, fire in the form of incineration has emerged as a major and somewhat controversial issue in environmental medicine.
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The Media of Environmental Hazards
While soil is often overlooked as a route of exposure, in some cases such an oversight may result in a critical underestimate of actual exposure. Home gardens may be an exposure route dermal or through inhalation to contaminants in soil, dust, or chemical update in the plants.
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How do chemicals enter the environment?
There are six ways in which hazardous substances can enter the environment. Direct exposure (pesticides, cigarettes, lead in paint) Direct discharge (toxic emissions from transportation, smokestacks, incinerators) Inadequate landfills (runoff or leaching of contaminants into drinking water and food chain)
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How do chemicals enter the environment?
Illegal Dumping (dumping of oil in backyards, or mass dumping of toxic chemicals) Catastrophic events (accidental releases of large quantities of extremely virulent toxins) Ecological catastrophic events (events that lead to human health consequences such as volcanoes, floods, famine and hurricanes)
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Environmental hazards
The major environmental hazards and their relative importance in various environmental settings. Chemical agents: pesticides, VOC’S, and PCB’S Physical agents: ionizing and nonionizing radiation, vibration, temperature, and noise. Biological agents: infectious and allergic disorders
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Interaction between hazardous exposures and humans
Four characteristics critical to exposure assessment: Route ( Inhalation, Ingestion, Dermal) Magnitude (Concentration or Dose) Duration ( Minutes, Hours, Days, Lifetime) Frequency (Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Seasonally)
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Interaction between hazardous exposures and humans cont…
All of the environmental media are possible exposure routes, and should be considered in a risk assessment. Humans have access to environmental toxicants by contaminated food, drinking contaminated water, and breathing contaminated air. Hazardous pollutants may also enter the human body through the skin or a combination of these routes,rarely are humans exposed to a single pollutant along a single route.
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Relationship of magnitude, duration, and frequency
The concept of “dose” in environmental medicine is a function of the amount of the toxicant absorbed and time factors. A toxicant may be present in very low, perhaps minute concentrations,and stimulate biological responses in the host. Even a very small concentration of a highly toxic substance can cause a significant clinical response.
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Recognition of Human Hazardous Exposures
The only way to accurately determine to what extent persons come in contact with a specific environmental hazardous pollutant is to actually measure the exposure. There are three ways to accomplish this: Use of micro-environmental samplers Use of personal monitors Use of biologic measurements in human tissue
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Children's Environmental Health

Prevention is the key to protection! Policy development at Local, State, and Federal levels.

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Children's Environmental Health
Children are more vulnerable than adults to exposures. “A little kid goes from a single cell to a laughing, sociable, intelligent, friendly human being over a course of two years that’s dramatic growth!” They are in a dynamic state of growth, with cells multiplying and organ systems developing at a rapid rate. In the first four months of life an infant more than doubles its weight.
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Children's Environmental Health
In its first environment, its mother's womb, the fetus may be permanently damaged by exposure to a wide variety of chemicals that can cross into its bloodstream through the placenta. These chemicals include: Lead Polychlorinated Biphenyls Methylmercury Ethanol and Nicotine from environmental tobacco smoke
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Environmental Justice
All children are affected by environmental hazards. Pollution and environmental degradation recognize no county, state, regional, or national border. Children living in poverty and children in racial or ethnic communities are at disproportionate risk for exposure to environmental hazards.
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Environmental Justice
Poverty can compound the adverse effects of exposure to toxicants such as:

Inadequate Housing Poor Nutrition Limited access to health care

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Known Hazards for Children
Radiation Solvents Asbestos Mercury Arsenic Sulfur Dioxide PM2.5
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Nitrates Molds/Mildew Bacteria Parasites Ozone Petroleum by-products

Known Hazards for Children
The following are three selected environmental hazards known to seriously impact children's health.

Lead Air Pollution Pesticides

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Exposure to lead has been associated with an array of neurodevelopmental effects including: Attention Deficits Decreased IQ scores Hyperactivity and Juvenile Delinquency Lead-based paint in older homes is still the most common source of high-dose lead exposure for preschool-aged children.
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Childhood lead exposures can occur through:

Ingestion of paint chips Dust from deteriorating surfaces Chewing on painted cribs, or through inhalation of lead paint dust.

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Air Pollution
Air pollution affects children more than adults because of their narrow airways, rapid rate of respiration and the fact that they inhale more pollutants per pound of body weight. Common indoor air pollutants include: Carbon Monoxide Radon Environmental Tobacco Smoke Asbestos Formaldehyde and Mercury
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Children are often exposed to toxicants through the agricultural and home use of pesticides or the ingestion of pesticide residues on food or in water. Pesticides used today generally fit into five main categories: Insecticides Herbicides Fungicides Nematocides Rodenticides
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What is Environmental Medicine?
Environmental Medicine focuses on the person and the environment. Emphasizes:

Identification Diagnosis Treatment Prevention
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The Discipline of Environmental Medicine
A broad discipline involving: Understanding the impact of the environment on human health Eliciting appropriate exposure history Recognizing exposure-related diseases Identifying and Accessing resources Discuss environmental risks to patients Treating Patients
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Environmental Medicine and Human Health
Environmental medicine plays two major roles in human health.

Provides the diagnosis and treatment of health complaints attributable to the environment. Contributes to a much broader understanding of the unity of human health and environmental quality.
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Future Concerns
Research that identifies patterns of environmental diseases in children. The developmental process, including the critical periods of vulnerability during which environmental exposures can cause adverse health effects. The health effects of low level exposures to environmental toxicants such as dioxins, endocrine disruptors and lead. The health effects of cumulative and multiple exposures to environmental hazards.
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Policies to be Implicated
THE KEY TO PROTECTION IS PREVENTION. There has been a dramatic shift in the recognition of children's environmental health issues everywhere.

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Environmental medicine is the clinical arm of environmental health. Involves diagnosis and prevention of illness caused or influenced by external agents in a persons environment. Once an environmental disease has occurred, it’s treatment is often within the domain of internal medicine, but it’s recognition and prevention is the essence of the environmental health practice. Once a hazard has been recognized, control, and reduction of exposure should follow swiftly.
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Conclusion cont..
Environmental medicine will play an even greater role in the lives of everyone as we continue to educate the public as well as public policy makers on environmental related issues.

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