3 Ways the Planet Impacts the Body
When it comes to health, most people focus on their own behaviors and habits. Even when our doctors talk to us, they primarily focus on what we should be doing to keep our bodies in good condition — i.e., eat right, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, don’t smoke, don’t drink alcohol, etc. However, there are outside factors beyond our own behaviors that can also play a significant role in our health.
For example, the planet and the environment we live in often impact our bodies in many ways we don’t even realize. Sun damage tends to be one of the only environmental factors people pay attention to, but there are so many other ways our health can be affected by the planet.
This article will explore several environmental factors that can impact our bodies and what we can do to combat these negative effects.
1. Sun Damage
The sun and the effects it has on our bodies tend to be the most obvious, which is why it’s one of the primary environmental factors to which people pay the most attention. From an early age, we are taught how important it is to wear sunscreen to protect our skin from sun damage. And if you didn’t always listen to that advice, you likely experienced just how uncomfortable a bad sunburn could be once or twice, perhaps even multiple times.
But it’s not just a bad burn we have to be aware of, as many already know. Too much sun exposure and sunburns can lead to skin cancer. Even just one bad burn can increase your chances of developing skin cancer.
As such, it’s important to take extra precautions and preventive measures. Wearing sunscreen and clothing to protect your skin is still ideal, of course, but there are other things you can do to lower your chances of skin cancer. Regular cancer screenings, for example, are crucial because they can catch melanoma in the early stages before it spreads.
Most people tend to only worry about their skin if they notice something looks wrong, but by the time you notice something, it could already be too late, which is why it’s important to get screened, even if there is nothing amiss. As skin cancer continues to be one of the most common types of cancer, scientists are constantly finding new ways to improve cancer screenings and diagnosis.
2. Air Pollution
Air pollution has been a concern for decades, but it has become a significant public health concern in recent years as a result of the planet being increasingly impacted by climate change according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels, wildfire smoke and toxic fumes from chemical plants are all things capable of significantly reducing air quality, which in turn can severely impact our health.
When we breathe in solid, liquid or gas particles suspended in the air, it can have poisonous effects on our bodies. Scientists have recently linked air pollution to a rise in lung cancer, but it can also cause strokes and respiratory diseases that can lead to death.
Poor air quality can also affect our eyes. The eyes are a sensitive part of the body and are directly exposed to air pollution daily. Long-term exposure can result in glaucoma, cataracts, retinal vein occlusion and more.
While scientists and big pharmaceutical companies are working on improved treatments for eye disease, lung cancer and respiratory issues — they’re all still major concerns. So it’s important to take preventative measures in your daily life, such as using air filters indoors, wearing a mask when necessary, wearing protective goggles or glasses and avoiding going outside when the EPA indicates lower air quality in your area.
3. Chemical Pollutants and Pesticides
Chemicals don’t just end up in the air today; they also end up in the water, on our plants and in our food. For example, pesticides are hazardous and can be harmful to human health, as well as to animals and the environment.
The primary concern with chemical pollutants like pesticides is toxicity. Acute toxicity can happen after just one single exposure, which can affect the eyes, skin and lungs. Long-term exposure to pesticides can cause chronic toxicity, which can result in birth defects, tumors, genetic changes, blood disorders, nerve disorders and endocrine disruption.
Other chemical pollutants that leak into groundwater and soil can also end up poisoning the body. The best way to avoid toxicity is to avoid being exposed to pesticides and other chemicals as much as possible. Don’t use pesticides in your garden, avoid buying products from the store that were grown using pesticides and, if you are exposed to pesticides or other chemicals and start experiencing symptoms, check with your doctor right away.
Final Thoughts: Combating Environmental Health Issues
There are many other ways the planet can affect our health, such as water pollution, natural disasters and disease outbreaks. While there are actions we can take to avoid some of the negative effects of these environmental factors, one of the best ways to combat them is to combat climate change.
Many of the environmental issues impacting our health are a direct cause of what we have done to the planet ourselves. So the only way to prevent these issues from getting worse is to take bigger steps to stop rapid climate change. This responsibility falls not just on us as individuals, but on larger corporations and organizations that contribute the most to the waste and pollution destroying the planet.