In any given day, humans may be exposed to multiple environmental hazards. These hazards can include common household, outdoor or workplace environmental factors. The most common of these environmental concerns are chemical or biological in nature.
Most households or workplaces contain chemicals in the form of cleaning agents, drinking water additives, chemicals in clothing and furniture as well as the agents that are imbedded in building materials like drywall, carpets and paint. In some buildings, people are exposed to health hazards as a result of heating or air conditioning systems. While limited amounts of these chemicals generally stay within safe limits and have no adverse affect on humans; long-term exposure can result in sensitivity reactions in adults and serious problems with children’s health.
In addition to chemicals, people are exposed to many biological agents in the environment. Outside, we can be exposed to cancer-causing sunlight, air and noise pollution, pesticides and even naturally-occurring chemical agents that can cause allergic reactions. Inside, people can be exposed to things like germs and illnesses spread by human contact or artificial additives in food products. Biological agents are responsible for many of the chronic health problems seen today in adults and children.
As for commercial buildings or areas where new construction is occurring, generally it is up to a government administered environmental agency to provide health inspection services. This helps to identify and reduce any possible environmental hazards in order to reduce illness or injury to people who must be in the vicinity. This is especially important to prevent people from falling victim to environmental hazards commonly found in construction materials like paint, treated wood, fiberglass and carpets.
When people hear the phrase “environmental hazard,” they most often think of major commercial-scale disasters such as oil spills or nuclear waste leaks that require years of cleanup. While these events are certainly devastating to the areas in which they occur, its important to remember that there are many environmental hazards in homes and businesses around the world that wreak havoc on people’s lives. With a level of awareness and education, these factors can be managed properly in order to minimize their affect on humans.
With better lifestyle choices, we can prevent and limit exposure to environmental hazards by using natural products to clean with, drinking filtered water, eating organically produced foods and using caution when in environments that may contain a higher than normal level of contaminants. Using the guidelines set forth by the environmental health agencies in the region is a good way to start making changes that will lower the environmental impact these hazards have on daily life.