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Introduction to Environmental Health

By R. Magauzi (B.Tech EH, MPH)

Layout of the Presentation

Definition of Environmental Health Difference with Environmental science Responsibilities Composition of the profession Registration Scope of practice Core concepts Clientele General Discussion

Variation in Naming
Environmental health Environmental Public Health Environmental health and Protection

What is it??
A branch of public health that is concerned with all aspects of the natural and man made environment that may affect human health.
Positively Negatively

The control of all factors in the physical environment which exercise or may exercise a deleterious effect (directly or indirectly) on mans physical, psychological development, health and survival. WHO It is a theory and practice of
Assessing Correcting controlling and preventing those factors in the environment that can potentially affect adversely the health of present and future generations.

Definition Cont.
Addresses all the physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person, and all the related factors impacting on behaviours. It is targeted towards preventing disease and creating health-supportive environments. Definition excludes behaviour: not related to environment, related to the social Related to cultural environment Related to genetics.

Environmental Health vs Environmental Science

Environmental health:- focuses on how the environmental factors affects human health Environmental science :- focuses on how the humans affect the environment and other forms of life
An environmental scientist might study how water pollution is affecting aquatic life, whilst an environmental health scientist would study what happens to the health of people when they catch and eat fish from an affected water body.

Difference with Environmental science

It differs from the study of how humans affect the environment, because it focuses on peoples health. An environmental scientist might study how water pollution is affecting aquatic life, whilst an environmental health scientist would study what happens to the health of people when they catch and eat fish from an affected water body

Responsibilities are backed by

Responsibilities for Environmental health Practitioners

Legislations, Regulations Statutory Instruments By laws rules, proclamations, orders or notices Standard Operating procedures (SOPs) Guidelines

Where do we find the EH Practitioners

Government MOHCW, Uniformed forces, Vet department etc Parastatals NRZ, Local Authorities (Urban or rural) Industry mining, agriculture, factory Donors NGOs

Environmental health practitioners may be known as: Public health inspectors Environmental health specialists Environmental health officers Environmental health technicians or Sanitarians.
Other assistants
Health Orderlies Field Orderlies Leprosy Scouts

Many countries require that individuals in this field have professional licenses in order to practice environmental health e.g.
In Zimbabwe they need to register with Environmental Health Professions Council of Zimbabwe Appointment as EHO/Health inspectors in terms of the Public Health Act Appointment as Meat Inspectors according to meat regulations Appointment as Food Inspectors according to Food and Food Standards Act Factory Inspectors according to Factory and factories Act etc.

Scope of Practice
The practice of environmental health by registered environmental health specialists in the public and private sector includes, but is not limited to:
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) promotion Food Hygiene and Safety monitoring (swabbing and sample collection) Vector and parasite control Meat inspection and Hygiene Environmental control (air, land, water pollution and noise)

Scope of Practice Cont.

Disease surveillance, prevention and control Waste Management solid, liquid and hazardous Epidemic Preparedness and Response Port Health Public Health Legislation Administration (including inspections) Health and Hygiene Promotion Housing

Core concepts Used in Environmental health

They are crucial in assessing, prevention and control of Environmental Health Hazards
Toxicity Exposure Dose/Response Individual Susceptibility, Risks & Benefits, Environmental Justice, and Community Resources & Action.

The study of how environmental hazards, such as natural and human-made chemicals, can enter human bodies and cause ill health Different chemicals enters the body via different routes e.g. nose, mouth, the skin and cause harm of differing extent (toxicity)

It is degree of vulnerability to a hazard The human body is exposed to all kinds of environmental hazards such as bacteria, viruses, chemicals, radiation and the suns ultra-violet (UV) rays etc Some of these hazards exist naturally and some of them are the result of human activities. The degree of exposure is a function of vulnerability to the hazard

Exposure Cont.
These hazards travel from the source to human body through an environmental pathway. Pathways include the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and even the soil we work in and use to grow much of our food

Once you have come into contact with a hazard, it can get into your body through different routes

The amount of a hazard that enters ones body
Effects depends on duration of exposure, frequency of exposure body size

the larger the dose, the more extreme the response, the smaller the dose, the more mild the response will be

Individual Susceptibility
People respond differently to environmental hazards. Caused by difference in :
genetics, body size, age, gender general health,

Individual Susceptibility Cont.

People most likely to be affected by the hazards include:
pregnant women developing babies, infants and children elderly people whose defence mechanisms are less efficient, sick people who have weakened immune systems,

Risks and Benefits

The world is now different form what it was before This has gone hand in hand with improved technology e.g.
Chemical enginnering Mining Agriculture technology New inventions Improved transport

Risks and Benefits

These improvements results in benefits to society in general as well as risks
Mines and other air polluting industries predispose workers and those around to infections e.g. TB, CWP, Asbestosis New inventions- AIDS increasing because of introductions of many contraceptives Improved transport technology- moving around the globe within 24hrs Man reaching areas he never used to before

Risks and Benefits Cont.

It is important to weigh risks vs benefits when proposing a development. Safety standards help people protect from unnecessary risk in order to
enjoy the greatest benefits from the least possible risk.

By understanding the risks and benefits that we face each day, we can make decisions that reduce our risk and keep us as safe and healthy as possible.

Environmental Justice
Everyone has the right to live peacefully
environment that doesnt make them sick, regardless of their race, culture, or income,

this is called environmental justice (EJ) Unfortunately, this is not the case practically

Environmental Justice Cont.

Some communities often have less economic or political power in society E.g, toxic waste dumps, polluting factories, and busy highways are often built in lowerincome neighborhoods or communities This as an environmental health issue and need to work to seek environmental justice

Environmental Justice Cont.

1st step
You should know the following; a. Who is producing the hazard b. Who is being exposed? c. Who are the decision makers? 2nd step

Establish a dialog between the decision makers, scientists, and the affected community- apply the legislations

3rd step

Empower community members to bring about change 4th step Share information about decisions with community members.

Community Resources and Action

Learn more about environmental by using community resources. Community resources include places like the library, city hall, hospitals e.t.c You could search the telephone directory or internet for local or state, agencies that can give you information on environmental health status in your locality. Consult with environmental health scientists at local universities or health departments

General public, industry, parastatals, local authorities, business community and sister government departments including the ZNA, ZRP, ZPS

Environmental Health Criteria (2006), Static fields, Geneva: World Health Organization, Monograph, vol. 232 Ministry of Health and Child Welfare of Zimbabwe, Clients Charter for the Department of Environmental Health Services, 1998, 1-11. Ministry of Health and Child Welfare of Zimbabwe, Environmental Health Department Standard Operating Procedures (Draft Document). 2002, 1109

The End
Tatenda Siyabonga Thank you