Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Healthy Holidays: Give Thanks for Environmental Health

There are so many things to be thankful for; some of them that we may not even notice. Advances in environmental health have made our daily lives much healthier, but these are things we usually don’t notice.

Environmental health is the branch of public health that deals with how our natural and built environments affect human health. Understanding how our environments can make us sick allows us to take action to minimize those risks as a country, a state, as a community and as individuals.

Here are just a few aspects of environmental health to be thankful for.

Access to safe drinking water
The infrastructure that provides us access to water for drinking, cooking, and bathing is designed, monitored, and maintained to keep water as safe as possible. This allows us to go about our daily lives without worrying about getting sick from our drinking water. Thanks to environmental health, we monitor drinking water to make sure it’s safe. If you get your water from a city or a community well, your water is tested regularly. When a test reveals a health concern, you are notified promptly and can avoid the water until it is safe again. If you have your own well, it is up to you to get your water tested. Learn how to get your well water tested from our Drinking Water Program.

Organized waste collection
Before there was organized garbage collection, trash was dumped wherever it was convenient. This led to rodents that can carry diseases, living around homes, businesses, and in the streets. If you’ve ever spent time in a part of the world where organized waste collection is not standard (especially on a hot day), you can really appreciate our waste collection systems. The Thurston County Waste and Recovery Center works together with private companies to provide residents with safe and accessible waste collection, including free hazardous waste collection at HazoHouse.

Food safety regulations
Food safety standards and regulations have made it so that the food we eat is generally safe. When food safety standards are not followed or accidents happen, there are systems in place to recall unsafe foods and to enforce safety standards at restaurants. We also have resources such as www.foodsafety.gov to help us handle food in our own homes safely.

Wastewater treatment
Septic systems, sewer systems and wastewater treatment facilities have been environmental health game changers in communities around the world. Human waste contains bacteria that can make us sick with diseases like giardia and hepatitis A. Before these systems were in place, various methods were used to dispose of sewage which made diseases such as cholera and typhoid fever much more common.  Nowadays we don’t have to think much about what to do with it other than remembering to flush. But it doesn’t just disappear off of the earth; thankfully there is a 
system in place to dispose of it safely.

The many innovations in the history of environmental health have made our modern lives safer and healthier. That is something to be thankful for!

1 comment:

  1. We certainly do need to be thankful for the clean water and land we have for sustenance as others around the world are not as fortunate.