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EESA10H3 Study Guide - Final Guide: Indoor Air Quality, Great Smog Of London, East African Rift

Environmental Science
Course Code
Jovan Stefanovic
Study Guide

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Environmental Health Threats
Your environment is your health (but not the only factor influencing your health)
What is environmental health? (1)
According to the WHO: In its broadest sense, environmental health
comprises those aspects of human health, disease and injuries that are
determined or influenced by factors in the environment.
What is environmental health? (2)
According to the WHO: This includes the study of both the direct and the
indirect pathological effects of various:
osocial agents (housing, urban development, land use, transportation)
Types of hazard
Chemical hazards (chemicals in air, water, soil and food)
Biological hazards (bacteria, viruses, parasites, allergens, animals such as
bees and poisonous snacks)
Cultural (social) hazards (unsafe working conditions, poor diet, drugs,
drinking, driving, poverty)
Physical hazards (radiation, fire, tornado, hurricane, volcanic eruption,
Chemical hazard, Biological hazard, Cultural (social) hazard, Physical hazard
What is the environment?
Environment is everything that affects a living organism
Effect of environment on human health is so great
o Air
o Water
o Soil
o Manmade environment (Created by society)
Environmental crisis: Human alteration of Earth
Atmosphere:CO2 increased 30% since the beginning of the Industrial
Geosphere: 1/3 to 1/2 of the land surface has been transformed by human action
Biosphere, Industrialization, Overpopulation: overconsumption
The declining health of other organisms is the clearest indicator of environmental
threats to human health
No single factor is responsible:
Increase UV

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Traces of toxic
Infections (fungi and bacteria)
Environmental health
Environmental factors responsible for 25 % of all preventable diseases
Diarrhea and respiratory infections heading the list
Very difficult to assess
Protecting the environment has been a mainstay of public health practices
since 1878
Reach & poor
African Americans & Hispanic & Whites
Developed & developing countries
Percent of African American, Hispanic and White Populations Living in Air-Quality
Areas, 1992.
PollutantAfrican AmericansHispanicWhites
Carbon monoxide
Sulfur dioxide 12.15.7 7.0
New York City: African American, Hispanic and low income populations have been
found to have hospitalization and death rate from asthma 3-5 times higher than
those for all New York City residence
Everyday carcinogens: Acting for Prevention in the Face of Scientific
Featured by Dr. Sandra Steingraber
Airborne Hazards and Human Health
Global problem, used to be local problem but now is a global problem from
continent to continent
There is no place that is perfectly safe from pollution
In industrialized areas, concentration of pollution is higher
Case study 1: London smog, 1952 represents landmark for air pollution
The revolution and solution with air pollution started
In beginning of December in 1952, the air was steady and cold
So they need extensive heating in their homes for a long time
The source of energy at that time almost exclusively was the coal

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Coal contains a lot of sulphur, when burning the coal, sulphur is
released in sulphuric gas
There was no wind to distribute the sulphuric gases and evacuate
matter (smoke) to distribute it further, gas was stagnant
So after a couple of days, everything combined with industries with
same gases, and with the weather, it resulted in very thick smoke
What the people felt at first felt burning sensation in their throat, had
difficulty to breathe and would choke
During this ten days, about 4000 people died from this, many got
poisoned, got sick, young children, people with history of asthma and chronic
diseases suffered most
The disease was resolved by itself, no one did anything about it
The wind started blowing and distributed the pollutants from the area
Why it was a landmark was because the British government started
investing money into sulphur in solving this city
It was not just a landmark for the British, but It was also a landmark
for other parts of the world
A man guides a London bus through thick fog with a flaming torch
during the 1952 Great Smog
The smog was the result of coal burning
The Relationship Between Smoke And Sulfur Dioxide Pollution And Deaths During
The Great London Smog, December 1952, Source: Wilkins, 1954
The number of deaths is directly proportional to the level of sulphur
dioxide and smog
The two things to be blamed for the deaths was smoke and sulphur
Figure shows the average smoke and sulphur dioxide levels for 12
London sites and the relationship with deaths recorded during the smog
period in December 1952. The peak in the number of deaths coincided with
the peak in both smoke and sulphur dioxide pollution levels.
Case study 2: Indonesian Fires, 1997
oIn this part of the world, it was a common practice to burn tropical forest
in big areas, and after the forest is burned, the area is converted into
cultural life for a number of years
oUsually the burning is done every year before the rain
o1997 was different because it was a relatively hot, dry seasonthe burn
oAt one point, the huge extremely hot area was burning at once, the area
was the approximately the size of United States
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