Environmental degradation posing threat to human health!

Jun 17, 2022, 11:50 AM

Ten thousand years of protracted and increasing interaction between humans and their environment has influenced, beside the quality of ecosystems, also our quality of life, healthy life span, and health inequalities.

In 2016 WHO reported that globally some 12.6 million deaths each year can be ascribed to unhealthy environments. Moreover, 24% of global deaths (and 28% of deaths among children under five) come from modifiable environmental factors.

Human epidemiological studies and experiments in laboratory animals proved that exposure to some pollutants can increase susceptibility to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and reproductive cancers. Exposures to toxic agents can also cause immunosuppression, which increases vulnerability to infections, such as COVID-19 (Birnbaum and Heindel, 2020).

Environmental factors which represent specific threats for humans and ecosystems are directly associated to exposure to hazardous substances in air, water, soils, and food. Marine sediments and seawater represent an additional major source of contaminants to the environment through multiple pathways.

Risks and consequences are also amplified by climate changes and linear and non-linear combinations are reflected in multi-hazard effects. Consequences of living and working in a poor-quality environment could be further magnified in groups of people with poorer health and socio-economic status.

In this view, the strategic framework of Agenda 2030 launched by UN refers to the Sustainable Development Goals as critical sectors where all Countries are urged to promote actions to protect the planet.

This comprehensive vision recognizes that building economic growth requires address a range of social needs including education, social protection and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental defense.

The highly integrated 17 Sustainable Development Goals represent a solid framework that ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages is essential to sustainable development. Major progress was made in improving the health of millions of people and relevant efforts were also oriented in increasing life expectancy and reducing some of the common negative impacts.

At the same time, worldwide consumption and production depend on the use of the natural environment and resources in a way that continues to have destructive impacts on the planet. Economic and social progress over the last century has been accompanied by environmental degradation that is endangering the ecological systems on which the human future depends.

Thus, the development of multidisciplinary approaches for understanding mechanisms and dynamics of interference between environment and health is a crucial commitment.

Thus, the human-animal-ecosystem-human interfaces represent primary fields of investigation for valuable improvements of the well-being of human population, ecosystem and environment.

Guest Editorial

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