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Lecture 9

NURS 2512 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: World Health Organization, Walkerton, Ontario, Occupational Safety And Health


Department
Nursing
Course Code
NURS 2512
Professor
Andria Phillips
Lecture
9

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NURS2512 - Chapter 22Environmental nursing
It is the nurse’s role to promote health and educate the client on the impact the environment has
on the client’s health. Nurses may teach about:
The importance of drinking clean water, eating safe food
safely disposing of sewage and other waste
the effects of air pollution on health
in most nations including Canada, it is the people of the lowest socioeconomic status that
drink unclean water, eat contaminated food, or suffer from air pollution.
For these people, drinking unclean water, eating contaminated food, or suffering from air
pollution is unavoidable because of a lack knowledge about the issue, resources and
facilities.
If nurses can only tell people to drink clean water, and stay away from polluted air but
cannot provide information on how to manage the effects of the environment on their
health it can lead to mistrust.
For example, there is a concern that certain toxins deposited in water overtime
accumulate in fish and become a hazard to those who consume large amounts. Some
Aboriginal communities rely on fishing as a main source of food. While it is important as
a nurse to educate the community on the risk of fish consumption, this community may
not have any other affordable method of eating. As the provider of the information, this
community will also look to nurses for a solution. Where can they get good fish and clean
water? How can they avoid pollution? If the nurse can’t
PCBs, dioxins, and other organic compounds can travel long distances through the air
before being deposited on the land or in bodies of water. These toxins accumulate in the
food chain, where they become a hazard to people who consume fish and wildlife as
food, particularly when they are ingested faster than they can be excreted (Health
Canada, 1998). There is grave concern that seals and other Arctic animals are
contaminated and pose a risk to Inuit communities that rely on these animals as a source
of food.
The need to be aware of how environmental hazards impact human health is important
for nurses regardless of their practice settingscommunity, long-term, acute institutional
care, or occupational health. Tragedies, such as the deaths from Escherichia coli (E. coli),
bacteria resulting from contaminated water sources in Walkerton, Ontario (Ahluwalia,
2000), raise concerns for other communities about the possibility of similar events in
their own neighborhoods.
Increasing population, urbanization and industrialization . . . affect the quality of air we
breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat” (p. 1). The World Health Organization
(WHO) (2007) reminds us “to a large extent, public health depends on safe drinking
water, sufficient food, secure shelter, and good social conditions.
Early Hebrew writings included a code on hygiene, and the ancient Egyptians (3100 B.C.
to 600 A.D.) developed safe water and sewer systems. As civilizations rose and fell, this
knowledge and the systems that had been devel- oped were often forgotten or destroyed.
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