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Environmental health refers to non-infectious factors in people's environments that affect their health. This includes such things as the purity of drinking water, the quality of air that is breathed and the presence of mold or toxic chemicals within a home. These and many more environmental factors play a role in people's health and can cause illness. Some environmental health factors are harder on some people than on others. Children, the elderly and people with disabilities, for instance, are particularly prone to environmental health risks.

Preventing Environmental Health Problems

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a National Center for Environmental Health that attempts to identify, spread awareness of and prevent environmental health problems.

One major area of environmental health concern is air quality as problems can create breathing difficulties. Air pollution, asthma, asbestos exposure and carbon monoxide poisoning are just a few of the issues that can be related to the air that people breathe.

Food safety is another area of concern when it comes to environmental health. A variety of food-borne illnesses can occur at restaurants or at home as a result of contaminated, poorly cleaned or improperly prepared food.

Some illnesses related to environmental health are due to exposure to toxic chemicals, including the presence of lead paint in older homes. Sometimes this exposure to toxins is voluntary, in the form of tobacco use and cigarette smoking, which is also considered a major environmental health concern.

Many of the strategies for preventing environmental health problems come down to avoiding the offending triggers. This may involve such things as checking the air quality levels in the city where someone lives or preparing food carefully. The CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health has a variety of information on avoiding potential forms of environmental illness.

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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