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Human Health and Environmental Risks. Many risk factors Natural disasters Excessive UV radiation physical Diseases Biological Natural and synthetic Ex:

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Presentation on theme: "Human Health and Environmental Risks. Many risk factors Natural disasters Excessive UV radiation physical Diseases Biological Natural and synthetic Ex:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Human Health and Environmental Risks

2 Many risk factors Natural disasters Excessive UV radiation physical Diseases Biological Natural and synthetic Ex: pesticides, arsenic chemical

3 Diseases Acute – Impair body rapidly – short in duration – Ebola, pneumonia Chronic – Slowly impair body over decades – Heart disease, cancer, lung disease, HIV/AIDS

4 toxicology Neurotoxins – EX: insecticides on insects, lead, mercury Carcinogens – cause cell damage and cause uncontrolled growth of these cells EX: asbestos, radon, formaldehyde, PCBs, vinyl chloride, chemicals in tobacco Teratogens – interfere with embryo/fetal development EX: thalidomide, alcohol Allergens – high response of immune system EX: peanuts, milk, penicillin, mold Endocrine disruptors – interfere with hormones EX: hormones from birth control pills/animal-rearing places in sewage, low sperm count in male fish and amphibians, DDT

5 Chronic disease risk factors Differ between LDC and HDC. HOW? LDC associated with poverty: unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation, malnutrition – ½ children under 5 that die from pneumonia is because of poor nutrition – ¾ children who die from diarrhea suffer from poor nutrition HDC: tobacco, less active lifestyles, poor nutrition, overeating

6 Historically important infectious diseases Plague – bacteria transmitted by fleas Malaria – protists transmitted by mosquito; eradicated in US due to DDT Tuberculosis – bacterial infection of lungs; medicines not available/affordable in LDC – Drug-resistant strains

7 Emergent Infectious Diseases Ability of many pathogens to mutate and be able to infect humans HIV/AIDS – combination antiviral drugs reduce virus gaining resistant ($$, but changing) Ebola hemorragic fever – virus, central Africa, 50-90% death rate, no drugs, death in 2 weeks) Mad Cow Disease – prions (proteins turned pathogens) Bird Flu – not typically transmitted person to person, typically only infects birds, but mutated West Nile Virus – kills some birds, transmitted by mosquitoes, causes brain inflammation, infect humans and horses

8 Future? LDC : improve nutrition, wider availability of clean drinking water, proper sanitation HDC: promotion of healthier lifestyle: increased physical activity, balanced diet, limit excess food consumption, and tobacco use **All countries: continued education to reduce spread of HIV and TB

9 Determining the concentration of a chemical that is harmful LD50 – dose that kills 50% of test subjects – Unethical on humans; use mice/rats – Used to compare toxicity of different chemicals ED50 - dose that effects 50% of test subjects

10 challenges Kids vs adults Synergistic interactions of chemicals – 2 risks together cause more harm than one would expect based on their individual risks – Health impact of a carcinogen, like asbestos, can be much higher if an individual also smokes tobacco.

11 Risk analysis Typically 3 steps: – Risk assessment Identify hazard and determine extent of exposure – Risk acceptance Determine acceptable level of risk – Risk management Determine policy (with input from citizens, industry, interest groups)

12 Risk analysis put into action… Maker of electrical components dumped PCBs into Hudson River PCBs in air, soil, water and persist EPA identified at what concentration PCB caused cancer (LD50/dose-response) Greater chance of getting cancer from eating contaminated fish  put up signs to minimize exposure


14 Perceived risk vs. actual risk Perceived (qualitative) / actual (quantitative) – Ex: someone afraid to fly in airplane, but will drive car all the time. – Death in US: 1. heart disease (1 in 5) 2. cancer (1 in 7) 3. COPD


16 Economic activity generally harms the environment – Cost to environment not included in cost to buyer – External costs (externalities) are harmful social or environmental effects caused by the production or consumption of economic goods Buy cotton t-shirt at a price that doesn’t reflect possible eutrophication due to fertilizer run-off or poor working conditions in “sweat shops.” Ex: paper manufacturer dumps wastes into local river (public goods)  negative impacts on fish that depend on water, decrease quality of water used for recreation, extensive treatment of water to drink downstream

17 Cost-benefit analysis Cost-benefit analysis looks at the social benefits (health/environmental) that can be derived from pollution reduction vs the cost of achieving that reduction. – There is a limit to how much money can be spent before the budgets of other important public services (police, fire, parks departments) are negatively impacted. – As hazards become more known, perceived benefits derived from pollution reduction may increase. – Problem with analysis: assumes all benefits have a price tag. Aesthetic benefits cannot be prices and are important (beauty of a clear-running stream and quiet solitude of a wilderness)

18 Marginal costs The change to the total cost when the quantity produced changes by one unit. Marginal cost of pollution abatement: Initial clean-up of a polluted site is cheap, but gets increasingly more costly

19 Sustainability Seek to proved best outcomes for both human societies and natural ecosystems. – Conservation of biodiversity and ecological integrity – Integration of environmental, social, and economic goals in policies and activities – Need for good governance Unlimited economic and population growth puts many demands on natural resources.

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