Environmental disasters threaten our public health: Analysis
Dr. ForqanUddin Ahmed/ Former Deputy Director General, Bangladesh Ansar and VDP
Writer, columnist and researcher:
From the evolution of civilization man has gradually developed environment. Man-made environment is the product of the evolution of human civilization. Plant and animal life develop depending on the environment. So there is a close connection between the environment and people. But the environmental pollution is getting closer day by day all over the world. Human being has been behaving cruelly with environment from the very beginning of mechanic civilization. As a result, the balance of nature is being lost. Human civilization is under threat today due to the level of environmental pollution. Various researches are going on about the way to get rid of this. To this end, the United Nations has declared June 5 as “World Environment Day” to create widespread public awareness. Very recent the Sitakunda tragedy has already taken 49 lives of our nation in the very world environmental day.
More than four hundred people have been injured in the terrible fire and explosion at the BM container depot in Sitakunda, Chattogram. Some are seriously injured and are fighting with death now. It is learned that the owner of the depot owner belongs to government party.And it’s a joint venture depot between Netherland and Bangladesh. There is no opportunity to set up such a depot nearer to the residential area as per the existing laws and regulations. In other words, the depot was set up in violation of these laws and regulations. Even the depot authorities did not have a license to stockpile chemicals and combustibles.
According to a World Bank report, Bangladesh is one of the country which is most affected by pollution and environmental risks. Of the total number of deaths per year in Bangladesh, 28% are due to various diseases caused by environmental pollution. But worldwide, the average death rate is only 16 percent. The level of pollution in urban areas of Bangladesh has reached alarming levels. 80,000 people died in different cities of the country due to environmental pollution in 2015.
According to a report released by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPI), Bangladesh’s position has slipped 40 stairs with 179th place from a environmental protection survey of 180 countries. Burundi, a war-ravaged country in Africa, ranks 180th position in the index. Bangladesh is one of the top 10 countries in terms of deforestation, air and water and plastic-polythene pollution. The continuous deterioration of Bangladesh’s position in the world in terms of environmental protection is a matter of great concern and panic for the common man. This is because women, children and low-income marginalized people suffer the most from environmental pollution.
Environmental pollution is constantly increasing.
Although we have made significant progress in some of the indicators, the development of public health and environment is not at the desired level. But public health and the environment are closely related. When the environment is polluted, it inevitably affects the public health. Disrupted forests, lands and rivers and canals are also the cause of natural disasters. The government agencies must be capable enough about environmental protection, there is a tendency to ignore the demands of environmental protection. As a result, they cannot control the people who want to occupy the canals, beels, reservoirs and forests.
There is also a lack of awareness among the people. Public awareness and government activies are needed to overcome this situation. Due to population growth and improper use of technologythe environment is being ruined and public health is being harmed. Smoke and garbage from vehicles and factories are polluting the environment. Mobile phone towers, routers used for the Internet, the amount of radiation that is spreading, people are facing various problems.
Environmental pollution is reaching worrying proportions worldwide. Urbanization and industrialization along with economic development have led to increase in energy consumption and waste discharges. The global environmental pollution, including greenhouse gas emissions and acid deposition, as well as water pollution and waste management is considered as international public health problems, which should be investigated from multiple perspectives including social, economic, legislation, and environmental engineering systems, as well as lifestyle habits helping health promotion and strengthening environmental systems to resist contamination.
Environmental pollutants have various adverse health effects from early life some of the most important harmful effects are prenatal disorders, infant mortality, respiratory disorders, allergy, malignancies, cardiovascular disorders, increase in stress oxidative, endothelial dysfunction, mental disorders, and various other harmful effects [4, 5]. Though, short-term effects of environmental pollutants are usually highlighted, wide range of hazards of air pollution from early life and their possible implication on chronic non-communicable diseases of adulthood should be underscored. Numerous studies have exposed that environmental particulate exposure has been linked to increased risk of morbidity and mortality from many diseases, organ disturbances, cancers, and other chronic diseases. Therefore it is time to take action and control the pollution. Otherwise, the waste products from consumption, heating, agriculture, mining, manufacturing, transportation, and other human activities will degrade the environment.
Extensive studies on interaction between human health and environment risks have been proven to have significant impact on public health by direct or indirect exposure to harmful agents and disruption of life-sustaining ecosystems. Huge economic development and population growth, intensification of agriculture, increase in industrialization and excess energy usage has resulted in environmental degradation and driven towards public health problems. Major environmental health hazards are associated with severe lack of public infrastructure, widespread poverty, problems with access to drinking water and sanitation, lack of healthcare services and emerging problems of industrial pollution. Global industrialization, urbanization and economic development have led to an increase in waste discharges and energy consumption; water soil and air pollution; greenhouse gas emissions and acid deposition.Changing lifestyle habits and application of social, legislative, economic and environmental engineering systems can help in health promotion and strengthening environmental systems.
Minimizing exposure to environmental risk factors by enhancing air quality, securing adequate supplies of potable water, sanitation and clean energy is associated with significant benefits to human health. Mitigating effects of climatic change, benefits of reduced health symptoms associated with environmental hazards, collaboration between economists and epidemiologists is also of great importance in terms of public health benefits. Maintaining environmental health, safe and healthy communities is possible through surveillance systems and public education on the protection of important resources, monitoring hazards, investigation and response delivered for disease treatment. Delivery of services and implementation of environmental health policies through monitoring and control activities play an important role in improving environmental parameters, encouraging the use of environmental friendly behavior and healthy technologies. Different kinds of interventions and public awareness programmes are promoted based on the strength of the scientific knowledge regarding the magnitude of adverse health effects and impact of environmental pollution on public health. Competent health professionals help in ensuring reduction and prevention of the harmful public health effects due to environmental factors.
The state has to play a major role in protecting public health. Public health and environmental protection depend on many things. For example, high taxes and fines are required for smoking, drinking and unhealthy environment. Polythene, noise pollution etc. should be prevented. The law must be properly enforced to protect public health and the environment. The brick kiln chimney should be placed at proper height, mobile towers should be removed from crowded places, dumping of garbage should be stopped everywhere; arrangements should be made for utilization of waste recycling system. Old used vehicles need to be removed from the road. All the industries and factories of the country should be forced to introduce waste treatment (ETP) system. Roads and highways need to be closed for dilapidated vehicles, loud trumpets need to be banned, and urban garbage must be cleaned regularly. Abridged
Plastic and polythene products should be avoided; rural garbage and excreta should not be mixed with canals or river water. In order to maintain the balance of the environment, tree planting campaigns have to be conducted every year, forests have to be conserved.
Finally, we can say that a beautiful and healthy environment makes human life for human habitation to be useful. We all have to take care of it. Moreover public health and environmental awareness are complementary. Environmental impact plays a significant role in our public health. For sustainable development we must look for sound environment to ensure public health because environmental disasters threaten our public health. Without environmental development our public health will collapse.