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Chapter 1

Chapter 1.doc

4 Pages

Course Code
PSYC 3010
Hernan Humana

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Chapter 1: Environment, Health and Risk • Global warming, population growth, habitat destruction and resource depletion have produced a widely acknowledged environmental crisis. • These long term environmental pre thioblems are not amenable to quick technical fixes and will require profound social changes for their solutions. • The environmental crisis: • Human beings are altering the basic operations of the earth’s atmosphere, geosphere and biosphere. • Four prominent biologists have noted with concern that “human alteration of earth is substantial and growing. • Between one third and on half of the land surface has been transformed by human actions. • There is a decline in frog populations around the world. • The health and reproductive success of amphibians is being damaged by interactions between an increase in the intensity of ultraviolet light, traces of globally distributed toxic chemicals, competition from introduced predator species and infections caused by virulent fungi and bacteria. • Declining health of frogs, birds and thousands of other organisms may be the clearest indication of environmental threats to human health. • Today’s environmental degradation is rapidly creating an unprecedented global crisis. The driving forces are population growth and industrialization. • Human activity increased the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide by nearly 30%, doubled the concentration of methane and introduced long lived ozone destroying chlorofluorocarbons into the stratosphere. • Human and Ecosystem Health: • From a medical standpoint health is viewed as an attribute of the individual. • An ecosystem based health perspective takes into account the health related services that the natural environment provides and acknowledges the fundamental connection between an intact environment and human health. • An ecosystem health stance is a nonanthropocentric, holistic worldview increasingly shared by biological scientist. • In the anthropocentric view of the world, humans are the most important of all the species and should have dominion over nature. • Has been concluded that the earthy is warming and that green house gases are part of the cause. • Health and the environment: • The health effects of global changes are often indirect and difficult to asses, and the quality of evidence for the health related outcomes of global environment change varies widely. • The health science necessary to understand global environmental change is increasingly interdisciplinary and requires collaboration over long periods among meteorologist, chemists, biologists, agronomists and health scientists. • The sciences of global change frequently relies on computer models to suggest the direction and magnitude of change, but politicians and policy makers are loath to commit resources to predicted but unproven future outcomes. • Environmental degradation exaggerates the imbalance between population and resources, increases the costs of development and worsens the extent and severity of poverty. • Interaction between poverty, population growth and environmental degradation impede sustainable economic development and worsen population health. • Changes in natural system may be sudden and nonlinear. • Two recent developments have drawn renewed attention to the health risks of industrial chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs): the indemnification of medical waste as a significant • Medical waste incineration is a major source of dioxin and mercury released into the environment. • The second development is the emerging toxicological field of endocrine disruption. • Risk and Caution: Some Definition • a risk is a potential threat to health and life • How we assess, perceive, communicate and manage risk is termed risk analysis. o • Risk analysis is a substantive, changing and controversial field. • Risk assessments provide probability figures that apply to populations, not to individuals. • Exposure refers to the intensity and duration of contact with a substance or with a physical agent such as ultraviolet, x-ray or microwave radiation. • Inhalation, skin absorption, and ingestation are the possible routes of
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