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ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

HAZARDS

Environmental health hazards

What is a Hazard?
A factor or exposure that may adversely
affect health; a source of danger.
A qualitative term expressing the potential
of an environmental agent to harm the
health of certain individuals if the exposure
level is high enough and/or if other
conditions apply. (Last, 1995)
Environmental health hazards

What is a Risk?
The probability that an event will occur; the
probability of a generally unfavourable outcome.
A quantitative probability that a health effect will
occur after an individual has been exposed to a
specified amount of a hazard
A hazard results to risk if there is exposure

Environmental health hazards

TYPES OF ENVIRONMENTAL
HEALTH HAZARDS
1. Biological hazards bacteria, viruses,
parasites and other pathogenic
organisms
3. Chemical hazards toxic metals, air
pollutants, solvents, and pesticides
3. Physical hazards radiation,
temperature, noise
Environmental health hazards

TYPES OF ENVIRONMENTAL
HEALTH HAZARDS
4. Mechanical hazards those posed by the
transfer of mechanical or kinetic energy;
referred to as injury or trauma
e.g. motor vehicle, sports, home, agriculture,
and workplace injury hazard
5. Psychosocial hazards stress, lifestyle
disruption, workplace discrimination, effects
of social change, marginalization, and
unemployment
Environmental health hazards

BIOLOGICAL HAZARDS
Types:
- Include all forms of life:
plants, insects, rodents, other animals fungi,
bacteria, viruses and a wide variety of toxins
and allergens, prion
Spread of Biological Hazards:
1. Water polluted by human excreta
2. Inadequate sanitation
3. Overcrowding and poorly ventilated housing
4. Unhygienic animal husbandry
5. Soil and water contamination
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BIOLOGICAL HAZARDS
Main Environmental Routes of Exposure:
1. Air for respiratory diseases
2. Water spread of fecal bacteria
3. Food growth of bacteria
3 factors: type of foodstuff, ability of bacteria
to grow on foodstuff; temperature
Other routes: 1) skin penetration (parasites
like hookworm); 2) insect bites
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CHEMICAL HAZARDS
Toxicity the inherent capacity of a substance to
cause injury to a living organism
Factors for assessing risk posed by toxic
substance:
1. Quantity of substance actually absorbed (dose)
2. Body metabolism of substance
3. Dose-response or dose-effect relationship

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CHEMICAL HAZARDS
Chemical classifications:
1. Inorganic chemicals halogens which
are elements that form salt by direct
union with a metal;
- forms acids with water that irritate
tissues
2. Organic chemicals hydrocarbons; some
are central nervous system depressants,
asphyxiants, and flammable
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CHEMICAL HAZARDS
How chemicals are released into the
environment:
1. Natural geological processes; mining;
dredging; wastes from industrial,
agricultural, commercial, domestic and
manufacturing sources
2. Unintentional release during production,
storage, and transportation of products
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CHEMICAL HAZARDS
Routes of Exposure:
1. Inhalation
2. Oral ingestion
3. Absorption thru the skin
4. Absorption thru the eyes
5. Placental transfer from pregnant women to
fetus
6. Mother to child thru breastfeeding
7. Inoculation and direct penetration to target
organs
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PHYSICAL HAZARDS
-

Forms of potentially harmful energy in the


environment that can result in either immediate
or gradually acquired damage when
transferred in sufficient quantities to exposed
individuals.
May arise from natural energy or
anthropogenic energy

Types of Energy that can pose physical hazards:


- sound waves
- thermal energy
- radiation
- electrical energy
- light energy
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PHYSICAL HAZARDS
Common examples of physical hazards:
1. Noise & Radiation
Noise any unwanted sound; vibration transmitted by
air to the ear

High noise intensity damages tiny nerve endings


within the inner ear (cochlea); damage may last for
minutes, days or even become permanent due to
damaged hair cells which can not be replaced

Lower intensity levels noise can cause disturbed


sleep, stress, and reduced well-being
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PHYSICAL HAZARDS

Prolonged exposure to sound of


approximately 75 decibels may cause
risk of hearing loss

85 dB used as safety limit in workplaces

Rule of thumb: loud voice not


understandable within 1 meter distance
due to excessive background noise, such
noise is above 85 dB
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PHYSICAL HAZARDS
Other vibration energy can be transmitted directly
to other parts of the body.
e.g. use of hand equipment/tools may affect
adverse health effects with prolonged
exposure (vibration vasculitis or white hand
disease)
Radiation hazards
1. Ionizing radiation emerges when an electron
is removed from a neutral atom and a pair of
ions are produced ( negatively charged
electron and a positively charged atom)
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PHYSICAL HAZARDS
-

Ionization of atoms in the human body causes


harmful biological effect

Ions are highly reactive and may damage cell


structures, including proteins and DNA

Exposure to radiation from natural sources,


such as cosmic radiation, and indoor exposure,
including radiation from building materials and
radon exposure, account for more than half of
the annual dose people usually receive.

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PHYSICAL HAZARDS
2. Non-Ionizing Radiation all forms are
part of the electromagnetic spectrum
- Includes UV radiation from the sun
which can cause eye cataracts that may
lead to blindness, as well as skin cancer
and immune system damage
- electromagnetic fields is a type of nonionizing radiation; doses are too low to
cause any adverse health effects
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PHYSICAL HAZARDS
Health effects of UV radiation:
1. Skin cancer
2. Cataract
3. Changes in the immune system
Light and Lasers
1. Visible light one type of non-ionizing radiation;
not as powerful as UV radiation and mainly causes
damage to the eye after over exposure
2.

Laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of


radiation); if of high energy can be extremely
damaging to the eye and can burn skin or other
materials
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PHYSICAL HAZARDS
Pressure
-
Direct adverse effects of pressure changes are called
barotrauma
-
Health problems associated with compression occur
only when theres no way to equilibrate pressures in
an enclosed space.
-
At 2,000 meters altitude people may suffer from
shortages of breath
-
At above 4,000 meters altitude, nausea and
unconsciousness may occur
-
Sea divers who quickly return to the surface may suffer
from decompression sickness, air emboli, and aseptic
necrosis or death of small areas of bone.
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PHYSICAL HAZARDS
Extremes of temperature
1. Exposure to heat
2. Exposure to cold
Problems arise when one of the three conditions occur:
1. Temperature variations are so extreme that they
exceed the considerable ability of the body to adapt;
2. Mechanisms of adaptation, such as vasodilatation or
sweating; or
3. Exposure to extremes of temperature is concentrated
on a particular body part, as in frostbite or thermal
burns.
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PHYSICAL HAZARDS
Effects of extreme coldness:
- May reduce awareness of an injury
- Windchill can severely affect and even kill
people not properly protected
Effects of extreme heat: (local or systemic effects)
- Local heat can result to burns
- Less extreme but prolonged heat results in
systemic effects such as heat stress and
heatstroke
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MECHANICAL HAZARDS
-
-

Cultural attitudes toward injury affect the


response to injury control initiatives
Socio economic factors such as poverty can
affect how problems on mechanical hazards
are addressed.

Concepts on Injury Prevention:


1. Active and Passive approaches to injury
control
- the level of effort or action required on the part
of the individuals for the strategy to be active
distinguishes the 2 approaches
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MECHANICAL HAZARDS
Active strategy those requiring initiatives
from individuals
Passive strategies those where little or no
action is required
2. Haddon Matrix
- A key tool in injury prevention not based
on the concept that injury can be broken
down into pre-injury, injury and postinjury phases
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MECHANICAL HAZARDS
3. Haddons 10 Injury Reduction
Strategies:
a. Prevent the creation of the hazard in the
first place
b. Reduce the amount of hazard brought
into being
c. Prevent the release of an existing hazard
d. Modify the rate or spatial distribution of
release of the hazard from its source
e. Separate, in time or in space, the hazard
and that which
is to be protected
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MECHANICAL HAZARDS
f. Separate the hazard and that which is to
be protected by interposition of a
material barrier.
g. Modify the basic qualities of the hazard.
h. Make that which is to be protected more
resistant to damage from the hazard.
i. Counter damage already done by the
environmental hazard.
j. Stabilize, repair, and provide
rehabilitative and cosmetic surgery.
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PSYCHOSOCIAL HAZARDS
Those hazards that create a social
environment of uncertainty, anxiety and
lack of control.
Stressors are those stimuli or specific
events or situation that cause mental or
physiological reaction.
Stress human response to stressors;
process resulting from the interaction
between humans and environment
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PSYCHOSOCIAL HAZARDS
Stages of stress process:
1. Decide whether an event or stressor indeed poses a
hazard
2. Appraise the possibilities of dealing with the situation.
5 categories of potential sources of work-related
psychosocial stress:
1. Factors intrinsic to the job
2. The role of the worker in the organization
3. Career development
4. Interpersonal relations at work
5. Organizational structure and climate
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PSYCHOSOCIAL HAZARDS
Characteristic psychosocial hazards of
urban environment:
1. Poor or non-existant urban planning
2. Overcrowded residential areas
3. Lack of sufficient recreational areas
4. Disrupted social structures
5. Social isolation

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PSYCHOSOCIAL HAZARDS
Health effects of stress:
1. Increases in-heart rates
2. Blood pressure
3. Respiration
4. Blood transport to skeletal muscles
5. Simultaneous decrease in digestive activity
6. Cardiovascular diseases
7. Peptic ulcer
8. Bronchial asthma
9. Rheumatoid arthritis
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