In public health, the environment is now considered to be the set of “external” pathogenic factors having an impact on health (toxic chemicals, ionizing radiations, germs, microbes, parasites, etc.), as opposed to factors “Internal” (hereditary, congenital, functional, lesional, psychosomatic causes, etc.).
Environmental health is then the totality of the effects on human health due to:
• its living conditions (exposure related to housing and / or occupational exposures for example, nuisances such as noise or insalubrity)
• the contamination of the environment (water, air, soil, etc.)
• to environmental changes (climate, ultra-violet, etc.)
The consequences of environmental pollution on our health are manifold. Like cancer, some effects related to this pollution are delayed. Some health problems may appear only after a certain exposure while other effects are possible at very low doses (endocrine disruptors). Finally, some effects of the environment on health are directly linked to genetic predispositions …
HEALTH, POLLUTION AND THE ENVIRONMENT: AN INDIVIDUAL AND COLLECTIVE AWARENESS
In the area of environmental health, many situations are possible. Awareness about the issues of health, pollution, environment must therefore be both individual and collective. Upstream of this awareness: a better knowledge of the factors and the environmental stakes at the origin of the impacts on health and diseases is necessary. To remember: the effects of environmental pollution on health can be linked to the natural environment (ecosystems) and the built environment (habitat, vehicles …) including the conditions and places of life and work.
“Environmental health prevention” is part of a process of health promotion: creating the conditions necessary for everyone to act on the determinants of health and to obtain a healthy living environment in a dynamic of behavioral change .
It is also to engage in a sustainable development approach. The frame of reference of Agendas 21 says about health: “Inseparable from well-being, health is also an integrating issue for the territories. Leading a sustainable health policy in a territory is first and foremost about reducing the factors that cause health inequalities: unequal access to healthcare, living and working conditions. This requires better knowledge of the living and working conditions of all inhabitants, and the health needs of each one, which requires the participation of all stakeholders: health professionals and residents, businesses, donors, suppliers of health care. Together, services must develop a coherent plan of action, each of which will be involved. It is also necessary to train and inform residents and stakeholders about all the components that contribute to health. Finally, providing a pleasant and healthy living environment of course complements these actions in favor of the good health of the inhabitants. “(The health aspects of Agenda 21, a lever for local health policies, ORS Ile-de-France, June 2011).