Environmental pollution and its effect on health

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared on World Health Day the theme "Our planet, our health", which related to how the environment affects the physical and mental wellbeing of humanity.

Environmental pollution and its effect on health
Health effects of environmental contamination. Photo: UAG Press Bulletinwell

On World Health Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the theme "Our planet, our health", which related to how the environment affects the physical and mental well-being of humanity.

On this topic, Dr. Anna Gabriela Castro Martinez, Ph.D. in Human Genetics and Research Professor of the Department Direction of Apparatus and Systems I of the Institute of Biological Sciences of the Autonomous University of Guadalajara (UAG), explained the affectation of pollution on people's health. Pollution is a social health problem that brings morbimortality problems, WHO estimates that each year exposure to air pollution causes 7 million premature deaths.

"In Mexico, in 2015 the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) estimated that about 29 thousand deaths and almost 558 thousand disability-adjusted life years were attributable to poor air quality, on the other hand, we know that air pollution is considered the ninth risk factor for death and disability combined."

It is a problem of a social commitment because one of the greatest concerns of society is the care and preservation of the environment, the vast majority of pollutants that are increasingly compromising the environmental quality are of anthropogenic origin and have been the consequence of industrial, agricultural and agricultural development that did not have correct planning.

That is why professionals have the social responsibility to implement environmental education and research programs focused on controlling, minimizing, and even eliminating pollution. Some of the alterations that can be observed in children due to pollution are reduced growth and lung function, respiratory infections, and aggravation of asthma; in adults, ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular accidents are the most common causes of premature death attributable to pollution.

The environment and your health

The environment itself is related to violence, poverty, and disease. And is that domestic violence is a major health problem, it is considered one of the most common human rights violations in the world; it causes negative consequences for all members of the family and in society.

"We must remember that the family is the basic unit of society; however, a considerable number of them are not capable of creating a healthy and safe environment, physical, sexual, psychological aggressions, pushing, abandonment, insults, threats are clear examples of violence," stated Dr. Castro Martinez.

One-third of children who have suffered family violence will generate violence in their families and, from a social point of view, family violence is determined by inequality, racial segregation, and social disintegration.

Studies report that the main health sequelae of people who have suffered some type of violence at the physical, psychological, and social levels are headaches, burns, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, trauma, increased drug use, addictions, depression, vulnerability, post-traumatic stress syndrome, phobias, deterioration of personal relationships, loss of employment and decreased work performance.

Inequality and few opportunities generate a state of unhappiness, low self-esteem, dishonesty, violence, and marginalization, the relationship between poverty and health is bidirectional, it can be described as a vicious circle, poverty generates poor health and poor health generates poverty, in general, the highest mortality rates are observed in the most marginalized areas.

Some of the important determinants of access to health are education, family environment, and income. Other factors that determine access to health are parental education, health system coverage, availability of drinking water, sanitation conditions, and a geographic area that is not difficult to access, all of which are affected in an area where insecurity and crime are high.

Crime is a public problem that affects people's physical and mental health; unfortunately, in areas where there is violence and crime, these are generally isolated populations that are difficult to access and are associated with poor health and lower adherence to health services.