3 Environmental Factors that Impact a Person's Health
Do you ever consider how the environment and everything around you impacts your health? We tend to focus on what we consume but rare, if ever, the very things that are unnoticeably near us each day. Some may beg the question, “what can I do to avoid this?’ Climate change, contamination, and endocrine disruptor chemicals all play a part in impacting a person’s health. As you continue reading, you will learn about recommendations on ways to avoid or reduce your exposure to these three factors.
Farming and agriculture is more than just feeding animals to plump them up and eventually get slaughtered. During the process of farming and food production, “fossil fuels are burned to make fertilizer and pesticides, pump irrigation water, plow fields, harvest crops, process food, and transport it--sometimes thousands of miles” (Skerrett & Willett, 2017). These fossil fuels are then
released into the atmosphere, soon trapping heat and causing a greenhouse effect, formerly known as climate change. A mixture of carbon dioxide and methane flood the air we breathe, therefore causing detrimental effects to our health. Long term exposure of these chemicals can potentially cause ailments and diseases that we all know of today.
There are two steps that you can take in order to reduce your exposure to the effects of climate change, or to stop greenhouse gas production.
Skerrett and Willett (2017) both advise that “there is no single remedy for reining in greenhouse gas production by agriculture, but, one step will be to limit consumption of red meat, poultry, fish, and other food from animals, which generates far more greenhouse gases than does eating food from plants”.
“Another step is to limit the use of fossil fuels in the production of food” (Skerrett & Willett, 2017). Increasing your consumption of vegetables and fruits, while also growing your own food can lessen the burning of fossil fuels that cause climate change.
Both of these steps can be taken to stop the production of greenhouse gases, therefore reducing your exposure to climate change.
Another environmental factor that impacts your health is contamination. Contamination of water and food can happen through agricultural and industrial practices. “Water sources get contaminated when fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides and other toxins from agricultural farming runoff into our lakes, oceans, and rivers” (Skerrett & Willett, 2017). Food can also be contaminated through packaging, transporting, and while handling it at home. Humans can come in contact with a food-borne illness when any type of food they consume has toxins or contaminants. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year about one in six Americans or 48 million people get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3000 die from food-borne illness” (Grosvenor & Smolin, 2016). There is almost no way that you could avoid all hazards when it comes to contamination, but there are steps you can take to help minimize your risk.
What steps can you take to help minimize your exposure to contamination of food and water supply?
Eating out at home more often.
When you do prepare your own food, make sure to store it properly, handle it safely, and cook it thoroughly. “Careful sanitation and handling procedures can control most of these sources of food-borne illness” (Grovesnor & Smolin, 2016).
You can only control the spread of contamination in your home, but there is nothing you can do to control the spread elsewhere.
Endocrine Disruptor Chemicals
Lastly, endocrine disruptor chemicals can impact a person’s health. Endocrine disruptor chemicals can be found throughout various products that we use today, also food. All these chemicals affect our endocrine system, consequently affecting our growth, hormones, behavior, etc. The TEDX website (endocrinedisruption.org) advises that “most synthetic endocrine disrupting chemicals are derived from chemicals associated with fossil fuel extraction, processing, and/or burning. These include chemicals used as food additives, pesticides, plastics, dyes and more” (TEDX, 2019). Many of us may not think about the products we use or the food we eat, but it all could come back to haunt us years down the line.
There are three steps that the TEDX fact sheet acknowledges that we can take to reduce our exposure.
"Avoid buying products containing known EDCs (TEDX, 2019).
"Encourage manufacturers and suppliers to use safer chemicals in consumer products" (TEDX, 2019)
"Support legislation that limits the production and use of EDCs” (TEDX, 2019).
The best way to avoid exposure to EDCs is to find strictly organic, vegan products. Start by downloading the “Think Dirty” app on your phone. You begin by scanning the barcode on each product. It then gives you a rating based on how clean the ingredients are in the product you just scanned.
Climate change, contamination, and endocrine disruptor chemicals are just three out many environmental factors that can impact a person’s health. Causes of these factors and steps you could take to reduce your exposure were all highlighted today. Join me in taking the necessary precautions to prevent this!
Grovesnor, Mary B. & Smolin, Lori A. (2016). Nutrition science and applications. (4). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
The Endocrine Disruption Exchange. (2020, April 15). Endocrine disruption. Retrieved from https://endocrinedisruption.org/interactive-tools/endocrine-basics.
Willet,W.C. and Skerrett, P.J. (2017). Eat, drink, and be healthy: the Harvard medical school guide to healthy eating. Free Press: Reprint Edition.