The idea of health science as a core of research excellence in public medicine is nothing new. In fact, the field’s origins ribbon as far as back as the study of human health itself. In the last fifty years, however, it has burgeoned into a rich array of sub-niches including bioengineering, advanced physics, pharmacology, genetics, and especially environmentalism. Environmental health is concerned with how natural and man-made ecosystems interact to affect human health on a large scale. Today we live in an age of chemicals, energy, and urban development at a global level—and indeed, there has never been a more important time to think about what environmental health science has done for the world, what it continues to do, and what challenges it will have to face in the future.
Environmental health science typically focuses on the pathological repercussions of biological agents, radiation, chemicals, and the macroscopic anthropological influence of these things on psychosocial culture. The field offers a lot of opportunities for people interested in everything from ethics to engineering to psychology, and to ignore its reach and international importance is quite literally impossible. For instance, the United States National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences issued a report on January 13, 2012 that showed nearly 32 million Americans have autoantibodies that target their own tissues—a disorder known as autoimmunity. It is studies like these that seek to understand the root of illness and to eliminate it in a way that improves the life expectancy of entire nations.
Health science has only just begun to spread it wings, and the following resource is a collection of authoritative information to learn about a few prolific issues affecting environmental health.
By Paul J Lioy et al., from the Environmental And Occupational Health Sciences Institute
New Jersey is a heavily populated industrial area of the United States, and air pollution in this region has been a concern to health scientists for decades. This study attempts to trace changes in air pollution in New Jersey as a function of local, state, and federal legislation. Health science and political regulatory policy intersect on many fronts, and this case study emphasizes those conjunctions on multiple different levels.
By Deon V Canyon and Peter Legatt, from the Australian College of Tropical Medicine
It should come as no surprise that our environment is changing—and not always for the better. Many scientists theorize that humanity’s dependency and “greed” for energy is causing a skewed reliance on fossil fuels, whose combustion releases gasses into the atmosphere that are known to cause an increase in the Earth’s temperature (global warming). These gasses, in addition to hundreds of other particulate byproducts released as a result of chemical manufacturing, are changing the air that humans breathe. This series of case studies discuses how biodiversity, human intervention, natural disasters and things like deforestation affect the quality of human life on the planet.
By Gustavo Arcia, Eugene Brantly, Robert Hetes, Barry Levy, Clydette Powell, Josee Suarzez, and Linda Whiteford
There are, unfortunately, no international standards by which regulatory bodies and scientific consultants conduct environmental health studies. Each is marked with something that makes it unique from the next, even though there are a few universal guidelines by which environmental entities operate. What might be considered “hazardous pollution levels” in the United States might not be called harmful at all in China.
This highly detailed case study sponsored by the U.S. Agency of International Development is an attempt at creating such standards. It was conducted in the city of Quito in Ecuador and, according to the study, “[examines] health risks attributable to a comprehensive set of environmental conditions: water supply, sanitation, wastewater, solid waste, food hygiene, vector-borne diseases, ambient and indoor air pollution, toxic and hazardous materials, occupational hazards, and non-occupational injuries.”
Considering that the human body is made up of more than 40% water, this element is essential to life and daily functionality—along with food and sunlight. This case study highlights specifically a water study done in Zambia, which in the early 90s experienced one of the worst droughts since it acquired independence. The CARE organization launched a drought mitigation project that was designed to combat the chain reaction phenomena that droughts were having on the country. It includes a slew of other topics as well, like pest management, soil and water conservation, and preemptive environmental education.
Academic Journals of Interest
- Environmental Health
- The Journal of Environmental Health
- Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences
- Environmental Health Perspectives –open access
- Asian Journal of Environmental and Disaster Management
- Journal of the IEST (Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology)
- Journal of Environmental Psychology
- Green Chemistry Letters and Reviews
- Pittsburgh Journal of Environmental and Public Health Law
- Children, Youth, Environments
- Ecology and Society
- Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy
- Human and Ecological Risk Assessment
- Global Environmental Change: Human and Policy Dimensions
- Journal of Environmental Planning and Management
- Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
- Sociologia Ruralis
- Social and Environmental Accountability Journal
- Nature and Culture