Environmental Health and Health Effects of Environmental Change

Environmental Health and Health Effects of Environmental Change


The environment that an individual lives in is essential to his/her wellbeing. Such is the case given that the environment contains certain factors that either promotes or affects the health of an individual. Environmental factors that influence health may include air quality, water quality, the existence of toxic substances and environmental conditions that support other agents of disease such as mosquitoes in swampy areas. As such, nurses must address these issues as they seek to promote environmental health. Their roles in this kind of health promotion include educator, investigator and advocate roles. Failure to do so, however, can only necessitate a progression of the diseases to the unforeseeable future.

Keywords: Environmental health, Environmental factors, and Nursing



Environmental Health and Health Effects of Environmental Change

The environment that an individual lives in is essential to his/her wellbeing. Such is the case given that the environment contains certain factors that either promotes or affects the health of an individual. As such, identification of the environmental factors that influence people’s health is of the essence in the determination of ways that one can explore to stop these elements. In essence, this paper aims to establish the environmental determinants of health. Additionally, it will propose strategies that will promote the well-being of persons in the community through the removal of the environmental barriers to health. With such information, it is beyond doubt that the health of the people will improve largely.


The key concepts learnt from of the topic of environmental health are the environment, health, and nursing. The three aspects hold great significance and have a profound interrelationship that is worth analysis. Primarily, the environment refers to the surrounding of an individual’s area of residence. It contributes to the wellbeing of a person by either promoting or inhibiting the health of the individual. Such is the case given that through the environment, certain factors may either promote or inhibit the wellbeing of an individual. For instance, availability of clean water for drinking will improve the health of society while its absence will inhibit the health (Lundy, Janes, & Lundy, 2016). As such, from this illustration, it is clear that the environment is a vital aspect of one’s health.

Similarly, health is significant to the functioning of the individuals. Many factors may influence the existence of health. Of significance, however, to this topic are the environment and nursing, which mediates health of communities. A safe surrounding free from factors that can hinder one’s wellbeing befits the contribution of the environment to the health of people. On the other hand, nursing actions like educating the communities on the need of living in a safe environment will potentiate to a healthy society (Allender, Rector, & Warner, 2013). Clearly, from these illustrations, it is beyond doubt that the environment and nursing practice serve as crucial elements of determining the health of an individual.

Nursing fits in the context of environmental health in several ways that are of essence to an individual’s understanding.  Central to this deduction is the invaluable role that the nurses play in environmental health. For instance, in the realm of public health, the nurse has the task of disease prevention. They achieve this purpose by encouraging people to live in a safe environment (Lundy, Janes, & Lundy, 2016). Consequently, this promotes the health of the people that nurses serve.

Lastly, the importance of environmental health is another aspect learnt from this topic. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (2014) maintenance of a healthy environment is of the greatest significance to bettering the quality of life. Approximately, 25% of all mortality cases are due to environmental factors whose health effects are more diverse and far-reaching.

Environmental Factors that Impact Health

The environment constitutes individual elements that during an interaction between human beings with the environment results in an effect on the health of these people. People whose health status is at risk are subject to the greatest impact of poor environmental quality, which hastens their likelihood of becoming sick. The effect on health can be either positive or negative. Health care professionals must reinforce environmental factors that have a positive influence on the health and control those that have a negative impact on the health of the individuals.

A case in point of an environmental factor having an effect on the health of people is the air quality. Clean as well as good outdoor and indoor air quality enhances the quality of life through respiratory disease prevention. That is the case given that individuals breathe in fresh and quality air that is free from microorganisms that propagate the development of respiratory conditions. On the contrary, a poor quality of air spreads the development of respiratory illness. Characteristic to a poor quality of air is the existence of harmful substances such as microorganisms, pollen grains and emissions by industries and locomotives (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014). Upon inhalation of this type of air, the respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and lung cancers ensue.

Another component of the environment that determines health is water. The water can be either surface or ground water and refers to both drinking and recreational water. Availability of clean water is of the essence to the good health of individuals. That is the case given that people are free from the possibility of developing water-borne diseases such as cholera. Moreover, the availability of water enables people to irrigate their lands and consequently get food that is vital for the maintenance of well-being. However, use of contaminated water for cooking or drinking impact on the health of the communities negatively. Central to the diseases caused by utilization of contaminated water are the infectious agents like bacteria and chemicals from industries (Allender, Rector, & Warner, 2013). Evidently, from these illustrations, it is apparent that water is an essential part of the environment, which plays an invaluable role in the health maintenance of an individual.

That notwithstanding, presence of the toxic substance and hazardous waste is another issue that may influence the health of persons living within a community. Exposure to such materials and wastes will result in disease as they disrupt the functioning of the body in a variety ways. For instance, hazardous wastes when released to water sources lead to contamination of the water making it unfit for drinking. As such, consuming this water will cause illnesses such as typhoid and cholera (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2014). With such a depiction, it is proof enough of the role played by exposure to hazardous waste or toxic substances in the development of ill health.

Lastly, the environmental conditions of the place that a person stays play invaluable role of supporting or inhibiting his/her health. A befitting example is the existence of wet environments that promote the breeding of mosquitoes, which spread malaria in human beings. Also, climatic conditions such as the tropical climate support presence of tsetse flies that propagate conditions such as trypanosomiasis that have profound health effects on the individuals (Allender, Rector, & Warner, 2013).

Nurses’ Roles in Improving/Eliminating Environmental Barriers to Health

A nurse that is seeking to promote environmental health, there are various functions that he/she ought to assume. The roles are many and diverse but a broad classification will categorize them into three classes. They include educator, investigator, and advocate. Primarily, as an educator, one would seek to create awareness on the importance of an environment that promotes health. As such, as an environmental health practitioner, teaching the food handlers on the need of abiding by healthy food handling practice will prevent the instances of food-borne infections like typhoid. Besides, educational programs for schools will improve the wellbeing of students and teachers in the school setting, which has a high potential for spread of infections (Lundy, Janes, & Lundy, 2016). Lastly, teaching the community about the importance of avoiding smoking will result in a behavior change, which is central to the maintenance of good health.

Secondly, as an investigator, a nurse can eliminate environmental barriers in several ways. One way that a nurse can achieve this role is by investigating cases of food poisoning to establish the cause of the poisoning. With the information on the probable causes of the poisoning, a nurse can institute a plan of preventing these factors in the future. Consequently, this will improve the health of the community. Additionally, looking into the health complaints due to the supply of water will also facilitate the improvement of the environmental health. That is the case because the nurse will come to the understanding of the precipitating factors and develop strategies that aim at preventing the existence of these etiologic factors. Furthermore, investigating the environmental factors that propagate the spread of infectious disease and using this information for disease prevention is another example of the nurse’s role as an investigator (Allender, Rector, & Warner, 2013). Clearly, from these instances, it is beyond doubt that the investigatory function of the nurse can help promote environmental health and wellbeing of individuals.

Lastly, a nurse can play the role of advocacy as he/she seeks to better or eliminate environmental factors that mediate ill health. A typical example of this role is the initiation of court proceedings whenever an organization fails to provide a safe environment for its employees. Moreover, advocating for a safe environment for communities living in surroundings characterized with many industries is another instance of the advocacy practice of nursing. Such interventions help secure, healthy environments that reduce the occurrence of ill health among people in the community (Allender, Rector, & Warner, 2013). As such, there is no question that advocacy practice serves an invaluable role in improving the lives of persons within the community.



Concisely, this paper aimed at establishing the importance of environmental health, factors that affect it and the role of nurses in improving or eliminating the environmental barriers to health. Indeed, it is apparent from the discussion that the environment plays a significant role in ensuring the health of individuals. That is the case given that existence of environmental factors such as air quality, water, environmental conditions and toxic substances contribute positively or negatively to the wellness of an individual. As such, nurses serving in the capacity of an educator, investigator and advocate must seek to correct this situation by addressing these environmental factors. Failure to do so, however, can only necessitate a progression of the ill health to the unforeseeable future.


Allender, J., Rector, C., & Warner, K. (2013). Community & public health nursing: promoting the public’s health. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Lundy, K. S., Janes, S., & Lundy, K. S. (2016). Community health nursing: Caring for the public’s health.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,. (2014). Environmental Health | Healthy People 2020Healthypeople.gov. Retrieved 19 February 2017, from https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/environmental-health