5 Environmental Dangers to Public Health

5 Environmental Dangers to Public Health

Most people have some awareness of the fact that pollution and chemicals in the environment can affect their health. But the public is often unaware of just how dangerous and harmful environmental toxins can be, and just how widespread their influence is. A clinical research study by the University of Texas suggests that intolerance to chemicals in the environment is a factor in as many as 1 out of 5 chronic illnesses. As developing countries adopt a more westernized lifestyle, global cancer rates are expected to rise 75 percent by 2030, showing the direct link between pollution and public health. Here are the 5 most common environmental dangers and how they might be affecting you and your family.

1. Lead Poisoning

Lead danger

Steps have been taken to ban lead from gasoline and paint, but it remains a serious danger to both fetuses and young children. Lead has dangerous affects across the board, especially on development of the brain and nervous system. The Clean Air Council estimates that 900,000 children in America have lead levels that are too high, which can come from old paint chips, industrial emissions, and even lead in their drinking water.

2. Mercury

When coal-burning power plants emit mercury into the atmosphere, it winds up in lakes and rivers, where it is absorbed by the fish. The high concentration in a large predator fish can be up to a million times greater than the mercury in the surrounding waters. Pregnant women are advised not to eat fish because fetuses are so susceptible to mercury poisoning, and it is easily passed from mother to child. It causes impairment of memory, vision, reflexes, and mental abilities that can be permanent.

3. Pollution

Regulation of emission levels for new cars is helping to reduce pollution levels, but it might not matter as much as it should. Since the recession, the average car on the road is eight years old, meaning the air is still filled nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide, on top of the particle emissions from power plants and refineries. Studies show that 1 in 10 children will develop asthma as a direct result of pollution levels. Air quality has been linked to lung function, respiratory illnesses, and even infant mortality rates.

4. Water Contamination

Debris and Pollution in the Duke of Northumberland's River, Kendall Bridge, Isleworth, London.

Because the standards for water pollution are based on how they affect adults, children are often the most vulnerable to toxic chemicals in their drinking water. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, water companies must disclose the level of microorganisms, arsenic, radon, lead, and other toxic chemicals in the water. The must publish the results of their own tests as well as the source of their water and any known sources of contamination. Preventing health problems that come from polluted water is a top priority for Congress to this day.

5. Pesticides

Pesticides are found virtually everywhere, and 85 percent of households have at least one form of pesticide stored right now. They can be found in trace amounts in food and water, and they have been directly linked to cancer in children such as leukemia and brain tumors. Pesticides can also cause birth defects and a weakened immune system. The rise of organic food is designed to help parents avoid pesticides, and regulation has been enacted to help keep them out of schools and playgrounds.

The environmental dangers present in air, water, and food can be alarming, and much of the research as to the full effect of these toxins is still ongoing. But it’s important to take environmental dangers seriously and work to reduce their impact on your family. The right environmental legislation can save lives and the right choices in your everyday life can keep you from being a victim of the modern world.


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