Environmental health is a wide branch of study and theory focused on illness and conditions caused by the world around human beings. Rather than looking at health issues caused by the body, environmental health looks for causes and potential problems in the humans native environment. The study of environmental health usually covers the physical aspect of both the natural world and human-built surroundings. Air and water quality, climate, ultra-violet radiation, and human-created toxins are all issues carefully studied with the goal of improving environmental health.
Water and air quality are major considerations of environmental health efforts. Human beings need to hydrate and breathe simply to survive; if their air or water is polluted, it increases the risks to public health. Water and air can be polluted by a variety of factors both human and natural. Chemical runoff from factories can easily lower air quality, but the sniffling and sneezing of millions each spring shows that pollen can harm human health as well. By encouraging efforts to clean up water and air and warning the public about potentially harmful airborne or waterborne particles, public health officials can shield or at least prepare humans in harmful conditions.
One of the biggest concerns in the study of environmental health is the effects of radiation on the population. Although it may seem that radiation is usually human-created, it is easy to forget that the sun is an intense radio-active body that most humans expose themselves to daily. With the thinning of the ozone layer allowing more ultraviolet rays to penetrate the atmosphere, many experts believe that high-levels of sun exposure can be a factor in many cancers, particularly skin-related cancers. The enormous explosion in radiation-emitting electronic devices is also of concern to experts in the field, as even small increases in human exposure to radiation can have serious or dangerous results.
Another major area of concern experts is global change to human living environments. Climate change, global warming, and loss of species diversity all can do serious harm to the living conditions of humans. By working closely with scientists who study all aspects of the environment, from biologists working with endangered species re-population efforts, to meteorologists studying weather changes due to global warming, public health officials can help provide services and information about global impact on the human environment.
Public health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) devote much effort to understanding and improving environmental health. In daily life, humans tend to be exposed to a variety of natural and man-made features that can be dangerous to overall health. By providing information, public health officials can help to create an informed public that is capable of reducing health risks caused by environmental problems. If a “wear sunscreen” ad pops up, a billboard urges water conservation, or a sewer sign reads “no dumping- drains to ocean,” it is likely that public health officials concerned with environmental factors have been involved.