Environment is the surroundings in which we dwell. The environment
in which we live has an impact on our health and well being. According to World
Health Organisation, "environmental health includes all the physical, chemical,
and biological factors external to a person, and all the related factors that
impact our behavior. It encompasses the assessment and control of those
environmental factors that can potentially affect health."
Each year September 26 is observed as World Environmental Health Day
to create and spread awareness towards a better, healthier tomorrow.
Environmental health focuses on creating health supportive environments, which
are disease free and more sustainable. It aims at making the world a better
place to live by conserving its natural state.
The theme for 2015 World Environmental Health Day is 'Children are our future! Lets protect
their environment and health'
. Today, the environment is contaminated with
dangerous pollutants that pose physical, chemical or biological hazards to
public health. This is a prime concern and the public at large must protect the
future generation from the harmful effects of these hazards.
hazards that affect children and risk factors
The factors responsible for causing environmental hazards are
broadly grouped into three categories, namely, Physical, Chemical and
: These include consequences that occur during natural calamities
like earthquake, floods, volcanic eruptions, landslide etc. and other ongoing
phenomenon like UV radiations and radioactive emissions. Such occurrences are
often followed by an outbreak of epidemics that largely affect children.
Special contingency plans for their rescue and safety are needed. Radiation is
one of the leading causes of cancer these days. Radiation can cause leukemia
- a major cause of death in children below 15.
Human beings are responsible for rising temperatures on planet
Earth. Air pollutants like CFC's, radioactive emissions and industrial gases
deplete the atmospheric layers and pose hazardous risk on living organisms.
Industries working on nuclear fuel emit ionizing radiations
that are a cause of
developmental disorders and genetic mutation in babies.
: Chemical contaminants can be both natural as well as man-made that
are risk factors for environmental hazards. The list of synthetic environmental
health hazards is countless. With an extraordinary boom in industrial and
technological world, there is an increase in the number of health hazards.
Naturally occurring metals like lead and mercury are major pollutants. These
heavy metals are very harmful. Exposure to such metals in the form of dust or
paint put children at great risk. Lead exposure
can cause impaired hearing, lower
learning capacity, hyperactivity and reduced mental growth. Mercury is another
such harmful chemical that should be avoided when children are around.
Harmful chemical emissions and effluents disposed from industries
are prime factors for contamination of water bodies. Disposal of metal oxides
and pesticides in water bodies are increasing making water unhealthy, affecting
the nervous and immune system in children which result in severe sickness.
Chemical poisoning can be fatal to kids. They may have problems breathing or
can become unconscious.
Also industrial gases and pollutants are a leading cause of air
pollution. Combustion of organic fossil fuels like coal and petroleum emit
chemicals in air that pollute it heavily. The smoke produced due to combustion
contains aromatic polycyclic hydrocarbons and dioxides of sulphur and nitrogen
which are responsible for air borne diseases like asthma and bronchitis
in children. Asthma is a leading
chronic disease among children globally with 9.9 million children affected by
it in the US alone.
: Water borne microbial infections
are a major reason for many infectious diseases like malaria, typhoid,
jaundice, cholera etc in school going children. These infectious diseases
result in disrupted routine of the child impacting education and health.
Disposal of waste products directly in water bodies are the main cause of
microbial contamination of rivers and lakes. This makes drinking water unfit
for consumption resulting in severe infections. Developing countries as India
face such infectious outbreaks each year with children being at the highest risk
Developmental and genetic disorders due to various reasons also pose
a hindrance in their future. Gestational complications, abnormalities and
accidents cause permanent disabilities in children as Autism
incompetence and low birth weight. Such conditions affect health and quality of
life throughout their lives.
child health issues
Today, environmental health and safety
has become one of the primary subjects of concern at any world conference or
summit. In order to reduce the burden of environmental health risks it is
imperative to know what the major issues are concerning children and their
environmental health. These are:
- Air pollutants and smoke resulting in asthma, bronchitis,
pulmonary infection and other lung related diseases in children.
- Chemical poisoning due to pollutants like pesticides, arsenic,
agri-chemicals, and effluents.
- Heavy metals like mercury and lead cause neurological disorders
- Infectious diseases like malaria, jaundice and other pathogenic
diseases affect the immunity and well being of children at large scale.
- Asbestos and electromagnetic radiation fields used in man-made
structures and buildings cause cancers and genetic disorders in children.
- Household gases like CO and CO2 produced by chimneys
and parents smoking inside homes are harmful for babies and children.
- Pregnant mothers exposed to chemical hazards resulting in
- Children forced to work in industries suffer different
occupational risks that have an effect on their health.
- Developing countries to devise coping strategies for aftermaths
of various natural disasters like famine, earthquake, floods that leave
children impoverished and nutritionally weak.
- Undernourished children due to socio-economically backward
responsibilities towards creating a better world for our children
Children are our future and we must
ensure a healthy and sound environment to live. Small steps can help create a
better world for them:
- Your home is the place to start with. Keep the chemicals and
pesticides away from children and be cautious while using them.
- Dispose waste according to proposed guidelines. Batteries and
biological waste must be disposed carefully.
- Test your drinking water at regular intervals for possible lead
and microbial contamination. Keep it in a clean place.
- Support various public health interventions by government such
as vaccination programmes and regular health checkups.
- Keep a check on weather conditions if residing in a vulnerable
area. Keep the emergency phone numbers handy in case of any natural
- Do not smoke in the house and clean off the vents and chimneys
- Prevent children from playing in direct sun.
- Prevent children from working at hazardous industries.
- Ensure proper nutrition to children and seek medical advice
- Promote environment friendly activities. Keep the surroundings
clean and green.