What Is Environmental Health?


Quick Answer

Environmental health is a subdivision of public health that deals with all of the details of both the natural and constructed environments that affect public health. Environmental health is also referred to as environmental public health, public health protection and environmental health protection.

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Full Answer

The World Health Organization defines environmental health as the aspects of human health and disease that are determined by environmental factors, as well as any environmental factors that may affect public health. This includes outdoor air quality, surface and ground water, toxic substances, hazardous waste, and the environments in and around homes and communities, as stated by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

The focus of environmental health regarding outdoor air quality is to decrease air pollution and reduce unhealthy air emissions. Unsafe air is linked to premature death and cancer, as well as long-term respiratory and cardiovascular damage. The quality of surface and ground water applies to both drinking water and water that is used for recreational purposes. Environmental health regarding these resources ensures that water sources are protected and that the public's exposure to contaminated water sources is minimized.

Although the effects of toxic substances on health are not completely understood, environmental health still focuses on reducing the public's exposure to them. Environmental health concerns that focus on homes and communities are easier to determine, because people typically spend the majority of their time in these places. The factors of greatest concern to public safety in these areas include indoor air pollution, inadequate heating and sanitation, structural problems, electrical and fire hazards and lead-based paint hazards.

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