It's difficult to watch the environment affecting human health and not feel spurred to change. But many people still fail to see the correlation between our actions and its effects on us, due to denial or simple unawareness of our relationship with the natural world.
Over time our natural bodies have grown accustomed to living in a natural environment. It has only been in the last century or so that we've experimented with living in an inorganic world.
Although disease is by no means new (the first description of cancer was recorded in 1600 BC), the current rates of disease are increasing at alarming speeds and most are closely linked with known carcinogens that have become abundant in our environment in the last several decades (such as pesticides, artificial hormones, chemical cleaners, etc).
Some cancer rate statistics according to the Cancer Prevention Coalition:
While cancer rates may be the most talked about, there are other more disturbing trends that all point to the environment affecting human health:
It's obvious something it going on with our bodies as our cells mutate, break down or attack themselves and more and more of our natural world is contaminated with pollutants or toxins. Likewise, science has repeatedly shown that it is in fact our impact on the environment affecting human health with numerous studies and an urgent call for more research, stricter health standards and a banning of dangerous substances.
Birth defects have been linked to pollution, herbicides, antibiotics, air pollution, agricultural chemicals, beauty products, plastics, dry cleaning, and household products and cleaners.5,6,25,26,27,28,
Male factor infertility has been linked to pesticides, air pollution, exposure to lead, water pollution, household flame retardants and surfactants (found in many soaps detergents, fabric softners, paint, certain waxes, shampoo, conditioners, toothpastes, and more)11,1213,14,15,16.
Female factor infertility has been linked to household flame retardants, herbicides, pesticides, heavy metals, solvents, plastics, and industrial chemicals.15,17,7,18
Artificial infant formulas are linked to a higher rate of SIDS, Parkinsons' disease, and obesity, as well as diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure and heart disease21,23,22,23,24.
Childhood leukemia has been linked to electrical wiring, spray paint, dyes, household pesticides, and incense, as well as vehicle exhaust, insecticides, and nitrites, such as those found in processed meats33,34,35,36,37.
Many cancers have been linked to pesticides, chemical cleaners, and plastics.60,61,62
Breast cancer has been linked to underarm shaving and antiperspirant use, a decrease in the occurrence and duration of breastfeeding, synthetic hormones found in food production and pharmaceuticals, and various other environmental factors.55,56,57,58,59
Autism has been linked to the pesticides in flea shampoo, agricultural pesticides, PCBs (found in adhesives, flame-retardants, inks, plastics, etc), solvents and mercury exposure.63,64
Depression has been linked to processed foods, air pollution, and pesticide exposure.65,66,67
Water pollution has been linked to gastrointestinal, skin, and respiratory illnesses, and E.Coli, Hepatitis and Polio, and other diseases40,68.
Air pollution has been linked to heart failure, respiratory infection, asthma and allergies, and lung disease.69,70,71
Factory farming of cattle is less healthy, increases soil erosion and water pollution, decreases soil fertility, and increases the occurance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria41,42,43,45 compared to grass-fed cattle, and is often the most cited case of the environment affecting human health.
The pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers used in modern farming have been shown to contribute to water, land and air pollution, childhood leukemia, various type of cancers, and infertility7,12,17,34,36,44,46,47,48,49,50,51,83, just to name a few.
Industrial agriculture contributes to 34% of global greenhouse gas emissions each year.54
Transportation of food accounts for 11% of U.S. energy use and is responsible for 4% of global annual greenhouse gas emissions.53,54
While all of this shows how the environment is affecting human health, it shows nothing of the secondary affects, such as loss of habitat decreasing our food availability, and decreased air and water quality.
What happens without clean drinking water, breathable air or an abundance of fertile soil?
It seems that our treatment of the environment is not only making us sick, it's also working toward making us extinct.
There is no question it's the environment affecting human health. The only question is what will we do about it?
This information about the environment affecting human health can be empowering or it can be fear-inducing. Knowledge and awareness are important, but the most important part is not what you know, it's what you do with what you know.
If you're ready to get started, I'd recommend the following Steps first:
#1-174 For references on this or other pages, please visit environmental articles.
*Please read our disclaimer regarding all health opinions shared on this site,
as well as our advertising and affiliate disclosure.
*Any health-related topics shared on this site are solely the opinion of the author or guest author. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products or statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Sustainable Baby Steps is not a replacement for your own best judgment or a medical professional where indicated. Always consult your own opinion and/or your health care provider when making important health care choices. Read our entire disclaimer here.