Week 2: Introduction to Environmental Health

This is my first lesson in Environmental Health and, well, I can say that even though I’m not sure what or how much information will stuck in my mind after this course, the first lecture did make a strong impression on me.

At the beginning, we got to learn about Environmental Health definition. According to Wikipedia, “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.” or to put it simply Environmental Health is the interaction between human and the environment.

 

The lesson continue with us discussing about aspects of the environment that adversely affect our health. There are actually lots of aspects in the environment that affect our health, for instance air, food, water, noise and so on. However, we can divide these into 4 main factors:

  • Chemical (hazadous subtances)
  • Physical (noise, dust, radiation, …)
  • Microbiological (virus, microbes, …)
  • Others

These factors affect our health through 3 ways: Oral, Dermal, and Inhalation. And the factors can come from anywhere, nature, in the air, in the water,  from the fatories, industry, human activities,… (Basically, you can be influenced just by breathing or standing and not doing anything D:) 

 

And in order for our health to be effected, 3 things are needed:

  • Source
  • Pathway
  • Exposure route

These things are also known as Environmental Health risks. Oh and if you wonder, Risk is “a probability or threat of damage, injury, liability, loss, or any other negative occurrence that is caused by external or internal vulnerabilities, and that may be avoided through preemptive action.” according to Businessdictionary. The Environmental Health Risks always go together so if one of three things is missing then congratulation, your health is safe! XD

Continue with the lesson, we learn about how to manage the risk. It includes these steps: first, you need to identify the hazards, then start to rate the risk by multiply the likelihood with severity. After rating, you can choose the best risk managing option.

 

Last but not least, we learn about Epidemiology and Toxicology.

Toxicology is “a science that deals with poisons and their effect and with the problems involved (such as clinical, industrial, or legal problems)”

Epidemiology is “the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events (including disease), and the application of this study to the control of diseases and other health problems. Various methods can be used to carry out epidemiological investigations: surveillance and descriptive studies can be used to study distribution; analytical studies are used to study determinants.”

However, from what I understand, toxicology seems to focus more on the individual while epidemiology focus more on the public. Anyway, there is one thing I found really interesting when learning this. There is only a thin line between a medicine and a poison. To be more specific, if you use just enough, it’s medicine but if you use it too much, it’s poison.

 

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_health

http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/risk.html

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/toxicology

http://www.who.int/topics/epidemiology/en/

0674258592.01.MZZZZZZZ Environmental Health Revised Edition, Dade W. Moeller.

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