Pollution and human health

For a number of years now, in November / December I’ve contributed to an MSc in Pollution and Environmental Control, delivering a couple of lectures covering “Pollution and human health”.

People can be exposed to pollutants by inhalation of air pollution, and ingestion of polluted water or foodstuffs. Their effects on human health can be

  • Direct – where the pollutant causes direct harm to the individuals exposed
  • Indirect – where the effects of the pollutant on the environment and the resulting changes, can affect human health. Climate change, caused by the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to human activity, can lead to health effects due to the increase in temperature (increased temperatures can lead to increased mortality in vulnerable groups, such as the elderly) and associated environmental impacts (drought, sea level rise etc.)

According to the World Health Organisation, an estimated 24% of the global disease burden and 23% of all deaths can be attributed to environmental factors. They estimate that in 2004  these resulted in a total of 5,309,000 deaths, the overwhelming majority from low income countries. (World Health Organisation 2006). However, richer countries are also affected, particularly by air pollution.

I’ve uploaded my presentation to Slideshare, and they can also be viewed below.

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