How Does the Environment Impact Your Wellbeing?
The following environmental factors impact your health in multiple ways:
1. Indoor air quality:
- Mold and dust can exacerbate and contribute to the development of chronic conditions like asthma and allergies.
- Secondhand smoke in homes and workplaces poses a significant risk; in fact, the National Cancer Institute states that of the chemicals identified in secondhand smoke, more than 50 have been found to cause cancer.
- Poorly ventilated fireplaces and stoves contribute to your pulmonary disease risk.
- Common construction materials such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) can cause asthma, and formaldehyde (also employed in homebuilding) can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation; wheezing and coughing; fatigue; skin rash; severe allergic reactions and possibly cancer.
2. Water quality:
- Water containing lead, often caused by the lead pipes used in older construction, can cause serious damage to the brain, kidneys, nervous system, and red blood cells.
- Groundwater contamination occurs when man-made products such as gasoline, oil, road salts and chemicals get into the groundwater and cause it to become unsafe and unfit for human use.
- Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical often used in plastic water bottles, appears to mimic the effects of estrogen, interfering with hormone levels and increasing human risk for reproductive disorders, including cancer.
3. Food source and quality
- The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that long-term use of high levels of pesticides can cause birth defects, nerve damage, and cancer. Although the EPA carefully monitors pesticide use, consumers should still be aware of potential risks.
- Because their internal organs are still developing, children can be more seriously affected by pesticide exposure.
- Consuming fish with high mercury levels can have serious ramifications. Once industrial mercury enters a waterway, naturally occurring bacteria absorb it and convert it to a form called methyl mercury. When humans eat fish tainted with this mercury, it acts as a neurotoxin, interfering with the brain and nervous system. Pregnant women and children are especially sensitive to mercury's effects.
- If your food travels more than you do, know that shipping produce worldwide creates air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, both potential health hazards.
4. Noise exposure
- Chronic noise can trigger the body's stress response, which can lead to disorders as serious as heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
- A Purdue University study indicates that children living in noisy homes display less cognitive growth, delayed language skills, increased anxiety, and impaired resilience.
- Sound pollution can lessen productivity and decrease quality of life.
- Worksite noise exposure is a leading cause of hearing loss.
4. Electromagnetic field exposure (EMF)
- Some researchers think that EMF exposure can cause some degree of increased risk of childhood leukemia, adult brain cancer, Lou Gehrig's Disease, and miscarriage.
- The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has advised caution, and the European Union has actually created regulation around EMF exposure.