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. Health is the science, practice, and study of a human's well-being and their health and preventing illnesses and human injuries. Other terms referring to or concerning environmental health are environmental public health, and public health protection/environmental health protection.
- 13.0: Intro to Environmental Health
- The natural environment encompasses all living and non-living things occurring naturally, meaning in this case not artificial. The term is most often applied to the Earth or some parts of Earth. This environment encompasses the interaction of all living species, climate, weather, and natural resources that affect human survival and economic activity.
- 13.1: Overpopulation
- Human overpopulation occurs when the ecological footprint of a human population in a specific geographical location exceeds the carrying capacity of the place occupied by that group. Overpopulation can further be viewed, in a long term perspective, as existing when a population cannot be maintained given the rapid depletion of non-renewable resources or given the degradation of the capacity of the environment to give support to the population.
- 13.2: Air Pollution
- Air pollution occurs when harmful substances including particulates and biological molecules are introduced into Earth's atmosphere. It may cause diseases, allergies or death of humans; it may also cause harm to other living organisms such as animals and food crops, and may damage the natural or built environment. Human activity and natural processes can both generate air pollution.
- 13.3: Climate Change
- Climate change is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period of time. Climate change is caused by factors such as biotic processes, variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics, and volcanic eruptions. Certain human activities have been identified as primary causes of ongoing climate change, often referred to as global warming.
- 13.4: Water
- Because freshwater is only a minimal percentage of the total global water supply and water treatment and distribution are costly, water should be considered a scarce and valuable resource. Many groups are advocating new approaches to water use and distribution.
- 13.5: Waste Management
- Waste management or waste disposal are all the activities and actions required to manage waste from its inception to its final disposal. This includes amongst other things collection, transport, treatment and disposal of waste together with monitoring and regulation. It also encompasses the legal and regulatory framework that relates to waste management encompassing guidance on recycling.
Thumbnail: Runoff of soil and fertilizer during a rain storm. Image used with permission (Public Domain; Natural Resources Conservation Service, part of the United States Department of Agriculture).