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Environmental Health Hazards

What is environmental hazard?

'Environmental hazard 'is a generic term for any situation or state of events which poses a threat to the surrounding environment. This term incorporates topics like pollution and natural hazards such as storms and earthquakes.


Hazard: Is a factor or exposure that may adversely affect health it is a qualitative term expressing the potential of an environmental agent to harm the health of certain individuals if the exposure level is high enough and/or if other conditions apply.

Risk Is the probability that an event will occur, the probability of unfavorable outcome e.g that an individual will become ill or die within a stated period of time or age. It is the quantitative probability that a health effect will occur after an individual has been exposed to a specified amount of a hazard.


Contamination -- Introduction into water, air, and soil of microorganisms, chemicals, toxic substances, wastes, or wastewater in a concentration that makes the medium unfit for its next intended use. Also applies to surfaces of objects, buildings, and various household and agricultural use products .


Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into an environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms. Pollution can take the form of chemical substances ,or energy ,such as noise, heat, or light energy. Pollutants, the elements of pollution, can be foreign substances or energies, or naturally occurring; when naturally occurring, they are considered contaminants when they exceed natural levels. Pollution is often classed as point source or nonpoint source pollution .


A pollutant is a waste material that pollutes air, water or soil. Three factors determine the severity of a pollutant:

its chemical nature, the concentration and the persistence

Pollution & Contamination

Pollution" is generally used when you're talking about something big, like a whole environment, or an entire river, or something else really large. "Contamination"  can refer to very small quantities of something contaminated food, medicine, drinking water supply;  it can also mean a very small amount of foreign or harmful material, such as bacterial contamination, or a toxin, especially when it's not readily visible or noticeable.  For instance, a surgical suite could be contaminated simply because someone walks into it when they're not sterile, and it would be completely invisible .

What are the environmental Health Hazards?

ANY external factor that negatively affects your health can be considered an environmental health hazard." Common environmental health hazards include indoor and outdoor air pollution, and contaminated food and water. Less commonly discussed environmental health hazards include lack of sidewalks, crime, insufficient physical activity, poor nutrition, social isolation, noise, stress, and the lack of aesthetically pleasing living environments .

Types of EH Hazards
Traditional Hazards

Modern Hazards


Disease Vectors Infectious agents Housing and Shelter Drinking Water & Sanitation Indoor air Pollution Dietary Deficiencies Reproduction Injury hazards

Tobacco smoking Alcohol and drugs Transport hazards Environmental pollution Outdoor air pollution Chemical hazards Occupational Hazards Unbalanced Diet Stress

Routes of Entry of EH Hazards


airborne contaminants


penetration through the skin


eating drinking

Types of Exposure to EH Hazards


Short term period between exposure and onset of symptoms


Long time period between exposure to an agent and the onset of symptoms

Main Types of EH Hazards

There are five types of environmental hazards:  Chemical  Physical  Mechanical  Biological  Psychosocial

Chemical Hazards

Pesticides Acids and Bases Metal fumes Solvents Gases

Biological Hazards

Insects Rodents Animals Microorganisms:


Bacteria Viruses Parasites Yeasts Molds

Types of Physical Hazards  Noise and Vibration  Ionizing Radiation  Non-ionizing Radiation  Light, Lasers  Pressure  Extremes of Temperature



Uncertainty Anxiety Lack of feeling of control over one own life Homesickness Isolation

What is stress?

Stress is a human response to stressors Stress is a specific event or situation that causes a mental or psychological reaction. Stress is a process resulting from the interaction between humans and the environment. Stress process consists of 2 stages:

Deciding whether or not an event (stressor) poses a hazard Appraising the possibilities of dealing with the situation.

What are the Health Effects of Stress?

Cardiovascular diseases

Hypertension Ischemic heart diseases Increase heart rate


Peptic ulcer Bronchial asthma

What kinds of environmental hazards should you be concerned about?

Air pollutants

Indoor air pollutants Outdoor air pollutants


Water shortage and pollutants Food hazards Housing hazards Occupational Hazards Insect and Rodents Hazards Pesticides Global Environmental hazards

Air Pollutants and their Health Effects


Biological Chemical Physical

What is air pollution?

Addition of harmful substances to the atmosphere resulting in damage to the environment, human health and quality of life Can occur indoor or outdoor, in cities and across continents and even globally Air pollutants consist of: gaseous pollutants, odors, suspended particle matter (dust, fumes, mist and smoke)

In door air pollution

Indoor air can be defined as any non-industrial indoor space where a person spends a period of an hour or more in any day. This can include the air space in the office, classroom, motor vehicle, shopping centre, hospital and home.

Common indoor air pollutants


second-hand tobacco smoke ; airborne mold and mildew ; lead-impregnated dust from old paint cockroach shedding ; dust mite particles ; combustion gases released by stoves, heaters, candles and fireplaces; chemicals released by

dry cleaned clothes ; cleaning products ; room deodorizers ; office supplies ; paints and sealers ; new furniture and pressed wood ; personal care products; and pesticides .

Sources of Indoor Pollutants

Outdoor Air Pollutants


Ozone (O3) Particulate Matter (PM) Carbon Monoxide (CO) Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) Lead (Pb) Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs)

ources of air pollution



Transportation (Mobile sources )  Motor vehicles, rail, shipping, aviation. Industry sources  Power stations, petroleum refining, chemical manufacturing. Power Plants Central heating Incineration of domestic wastes

Health Effects of Air Pollutants




Irritation of nose, eye, and throat Respiratory diseases (Bronchitis, Asthma, cough, nausea etc.) Cardiovascular diseases Toxicity (CO) Decrease of pulmonary function and restricted activities) Cancers (Benzene) Neurological impairments, such as seizures, mental retardation, and behavioral disorders (Pb). kidney/liver damage, CNS disorders (Arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel, and chromium) Increased hospital admissions and ER visits. Premature death

Air pollution control


Reduce emissions (conservation and improved efficiency); e.g., refineries Collect, capture, and retain pollutants before entering the atmosphere; e.g., gas stations Regulating automobile exhaust using catalytic converter, control of sulfur dioxide through scrubbing Varied pollutant-control strategies and new and improved technologies

Air pollution control

Regulatory control

Standards (process and emission) Ventilation (general and local) Process change

Engineering control


Work practice control Administrative control Personnel protective equipment

WATER Health Hazards

What is Water Health Significance?


There are 4 billion cases of diarrhea worldwide each year and 2.2 million avoidable deaths-that's a death every 14 seconds. Most diarrheal deaths occur in the Majority World and just being able to wash one's hands with soap and water can reduce diarrhea by 35%. Insect-related diseases Malaria, is the biggest killer, causing 1-2 million deaths a year. At any given time 100 million people suffer from the disease. Parasites Intestinal worms infect about 10% of the majority world population. About 200 million people are affected by schistosomiasis (bilharzia), with 200,000 dying each year. After a peak in the late 1980s, guinea-worm infections have been declining as water sources are better monitored.

Water Health Significance

Every day, diarrheal diseases cause some 6,000 deaths, mostly among children under five: in 2001, 1.96 million people died from infectious diarrheas; 1.3 million were children under five. Diarrheal diseases have killed more children in the past ten years than all the people lost to armed conflict since World War II. Between 1,085,000 and 2,187,000 deaths due to diarrheal diseases can be attributed to the 'water, sanitation and hygiene' risk factor, 90% of them among children under five. With simple hygiene measures such as washing hands after using the toilet or before preparing food, most of these deaths are preventable.

Water Hazards and Health Effects


Biological Chemical physical

Water Hazardous Substances

Heavy metals Other inorganic elements Acids/bases Oxidants/reductants Chlorination by-products Combustion by-products Volatile organic compounds Hydrophobic organic compounds Endocrine disruptors Petroleum Additives Pesticides

The main water-borne/fecal oral diseases are


Typhoid fever Giardia Dysentery Cholera Diarrhea (caused by a variety of pathogens) Hepatitis Polio Worms





Water associated Diseases


Disease Rates and Risk


Water Pollution Control

Pollution prevention  Minimize pollution  recycling and re-use; treatment; encourage cleaner production technologies; encourage good housekeeping  Disinfection (Chlorination)  Disposal or discharge of waste water  only under specified conditions; precautionary approach; differentiated approach; polluter pays 45

Food Hazards

Biological Chemical Physical

Types of Food Hazards?

Biological: bacteria, viruses, parasites Chemical: heavy metals, natural toxins, sanitizers, pesticides, antibiotics Physical: bone, rocks, metal

Biological Hazards in Food

Biological = Living Organisms  In Meat and Poultry:  Salmonella bacteria (poultry and eggs)  Trichinella spiralis parasite (pork) On Fruits and Vegetables:  E. coli bacteria (apple juice)  Cyclospora parasite (raspberries)  Hepatitis A virus (strawberries)

Biological Hazards in Food

Biological Hazards in Food

How can you prevent Biological Hazard to Foods?

Prevention of microbes growing

Holding at low temperatures (<40oF) Cooling from 140o-40oF quickly >165oF(73o C) for poultry and eggs >155oF (68o C) for ground beef >160oF (71o C) for pork

Cooking helps to kill microbes


Chemical Hazards in Food

Chemical hazard: a toxic substance that is produced naturally added intentionally or unintentionally  Naturally-occurring:

Natural toxins (aflatoxins, marine toxins) Antibiotics, preservatives Cleaning agents, Pesticide Residues

Added intentionally:

Added non-intentionally:

Chemical Hazards in Food

Physical Hazards in Food

Physical hazard: a hard foreign object that can cause illness or injury  Inherent to the food or ingredient

Bone fragment, feathers Stones, rocks, dirt, fingernails

Contaminant during processing

What are the Food Risk Factors?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified five risk factors for foodborne illness:

Food from unapproved and unsafe source Improper holding time and temperature Poor personal hygiene Improper cooking Cross-contamination


To guarantee quality and safety of the foods traded at the national and international level;

Protecting the health of the consumers and ensuring fair practices in the food trade; Facilitating food trade.


Consumer protection, facilitate the production of safe food and fair trade practices.

Simple, coherent, transparent, result of process of consensus among the food chain actors. Based on risk assessment through the food chain.

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)


To monitor and control production processes Identify food safety hazards and critical control points  Production, processing and marketing  Establish limits  Monitor Applied to meat, poultry, and eggs

Recognizing and Controlling Occupational Hazards


Determine if personnel have potential occupational exposure to environmental hazards. Obtain training. Voluntarily notify supervisor or OMC of any predisposition to environmental hazards that can create medical emergencies. Use personal protective equipment, administrative controls, and engineering controls when exposed to environmental hazards.

Environmental Hazard Reduction or Control Strategy


Prevent the creation of a hazard in the first place Reduce the amount of hazard brought into being Prevent the release of existing hazard Modify the rate or spatial distribution of release of hazard from its source Separate, in time or in place, the hazard and that which is to be protected. Separate the hazard and that which is to be protected by interaction of a material barrier. Modify the basic qualities of the hazard. Make that which is to be protected more resistant to damage from the hazard Counter damage already done by the environmental hazard Stabilize, repair, and provide rehabilitative corrective measures