Write a 1,000-1,250 word paper discussing the evolution and purpose of contemporary
environmental health. Include the following:
Define the scope and purpose of environmental health.
What populations have been most affected by environmental health issues? How do
environmental health issues compound health inequity today?
Describe how environmental science and associated research have contributed to our
understanding of environmental health.
How has the field of environmental health influenced policy and population health at the
local, national, and global level?
Research one environmental health agency in the United States and one international
environmental health agency. Evaluate their roles in promoting health and their actual
effectiveness in addressing environmental health issues.
You are required to cite to three to five sources to complete this assignment. Sources must
be published within the last 5 years and appropriate for the assignment criteria and public
According to the WHO (2015), the scope of environmental health entails the aspects of human
well-being and illnesses that are determined by environmental processes. As theory and practice
embedded in public health, environmental health focuses on the assessment and control of
factors that lead to potential harm to the well-being of present and future generations. It thus
facilitates the development of mitigation measures aimed at the prevention of injuries and
illnesses to humans. The attainment of the objectives involves the promotion of well-being
through the identification and evaluation of environmental sources and hazardous agents. These
are accompanied by the limitation of exposure to toxic and harmful biological, chemical, and
physical agents in the atmosphere or settings that may adversely impact human health (WHO,
2015). Most fundamentally, the purpose of environmental health entails addressing the
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biological, chemical, and physical factors external to humans and other associated elements that
Most affected population by Environmental Health Issues
Akin to the allocation and distribution of wealth and resources, environmental health
problems are unevenly distributed among populations. The differences in the distribution of
these environmental health conditions are referred to as environmental health inequalities that
include health hazards. These health hazards are unfairly and disproportionately distributed
among the most vulnerable groups in society that are characterized by discrimination, poverty,
and minority classification. As such, these populations have a more significant share of problems
related to health based on their exposure to environmental and other hazardous risks (Kruize,
Droomers, Van Kamp, & Ruijsbroek, 2014). More precisely, efforts to address the various
aspects of the natural and the built environment related to human health have revealed that due to
environmental racism, some groups of people are at higher risks for associative hazards. The
hazards associated with such eventualities include pollution of the air, water, and soil. Besides,
these efforts have facilitated the determination of the fact that the adverse outcomes emanate
from economic and political processes, marginalization, and racism. The latter has played an
integral role in bringing disproportionate effects to different groups across the world, particularly
the marginalized communities in any nation or region (Kruize, Droomers, Van Kamp, &
In the United States, efforts such as Superfund sites created by various organizations have
been associated with the creation of hazardous environments for the communities living nearby.
These have been followed closely by the loss of Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) to
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environmental causes that lead to the pollution of delicate particulate matter, especially in urban
areas (Gouveia, 2016). As a result, exposure to such environmental pollutants has contributed to
the deaths of 4.9 million people (8.7%) in regions such as Europe and 87 million (5.7%)
mortalities across the world. More importantly, such occurrences have been reported among
marginalized groups of people who live in impoverished environments that are characterized by
poor management of hazardous materials that include waste, contaminated site products, and
leakages from the underground sewerage and storage tanks. Due to poverty, these populations
are forced to live in substandard housing projects that expose them to lead poisoning,
contaminated water, hazardous medical waste, and noise pollution (Kruize, Droomers, Van
Kamp, & Ruijsbroek, 2014). Similarly, in these environments, the marginalized communities are
regularly exposed to ionizing radiation, toxic chemicals in their consumer products, houses,
workplaces, and the environment in general.
How Environmental Health Issues compound to today’s Health Inequity
In today’s society, the disparities in the distribution and allocation of resources obtained
from the environment among marginalized groups of people have occurred as a result of the
pollution in the communities where they live. For instance, industries have, over the years, been
established in areas where the prices of land are low, but labor forces are readily available. As
such, people with lower socioeconomic status tend to live near these industries as they provide a
source of income through the manual labor activities available (Healthy People 2020, 2020).
Besides, the distribution of power further contributes to environmental inequalities as
communities that lack political mandate tend to live in remote geographical and economically
marginal environments. These conditions bring about limitations to the ability and effectiveness
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of the communities to impart significant changes. Consequently, due to environmental
inequalities, institutionalized racism occurs across spheres that include housing and planning
practices (Healthy People, 2020). Eventually, the differences in the distribution of such
environmental risks and amenities contribute to health inequalities based on the increase in
vulnerability to environmental exposures that exacerbates the welfare of the people, particularly
those with low socioeconomic status.
Effects of Research on Environmental Health
Through the assessment of the correlation between the human-environment interactions,
most studies in the environmental science field have facilitated the identification of crucial
factors that include the health risk factors that emanate from infringement, extensive use, and
pollution of the environment. Similarly, other studies based on environmental justice have
facilitated the identification of inequalities in environmental health by describing them as the
disparities in the level of exposure to risks and access to distinct resources in the environment
(Kruize, Droomers, Van Kamp, & Ruijsbroek, 2014). These have been followed closely by the
definition of the adverse effects that emanate from human-induced activities on the environment,
and lead to undesirable outcomes, particularly among marginalized communities. Most
fundamentally, these studies have contributed to the identification of the disparities in access to
environmental resources and amenities, all of which lead to the escalation of discrimination
against socioeconomic status, racial backgrounds, and access to health services, among others.
Influence on Health within Populations and Policies
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Based on the effects associated with hazardous activities in the environment to the well-
being of humans, it has become imperative that all nations and regions across the world must
improve their efforts to curb such occurrences. As such, the enormous and catastrophic threats
associated with environmental health risks have played an integral role in the formulation of
different policies and regulations designed to curb harmful human-induced activities at the local,
national, and global levels (Kruize, Droomers, Van Kamp, & Ruijsbroek, 2014). For instance,
the occurrences of catastrophic events that include hurricanes, storms, drought, and famine in
different parts of the world have contributed to the formulation of policies that seek to safeguard
the well-being of humans through healthy environments. Similarly, in the United States, various
strategies and regulatory standards are used at the local and state levels to monitor the industrial
activities carried based on an emphasis on aspects such as the working conditions, emission of
toxic gases, and management of waste products (Healthy People, 2020).
National and Global Environmental Health Agencies and their effectiveness
At the national level, one of the fundamental environmental health agencies operating in
the United States entails Healthy People 2020 that operates under the Office of Disease
Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP). Globally, the WHO has continuously remained
vibrant in the definition of environmental and other external factors related to human health
(Healthy People, 2020). Similarly, the WHO has significantly contributed to the attainment of
desired goals in different parts of the world by helping nations identify the causative factors in
the environment that impact the welfare of their people (WHO, 2015). As such, the effectiveness
of these agencies is based on their collaboration and commitment to support the goals of each
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entity and further contribute to the elimination of environmental health hazards that affect the
well-being of the people.
Gouveia, N. (2016). Addressing Environmental Health Inequalities. International Journal of
Environmental Research and Public Health, 13(9), 858.
Healthy People 2020. (2020). Environmental Health | Healthy People 2020.
Kruize, H., Droomers, M., Van Kamp, I., & Ruijsbroek, A. (2014). What Causes Environmental
Inequalities and Related Health Effects? An Analysis of Evolving
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Concepts. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 11(6),
WHO. (2015). Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health.