Examples of Stanford college essays

To find out how the environment affects human health, it is necessary to begin by defining the concepts of nature and environment.
In a broad sense, nature is the entire material, energy and information world of the universe. Nature is a set of natural conditions for the existence of human society, which is directly or indirectly affected by humanity, with which it is connected in economic activities. The interaction of man with nature is an eternal and at the same time modern problem: mankind is connected by its origin with the natural environment, existence, and future. Man, as an element of nature, is part of the complex system nature-society. At the expense of nature, mankind meets many of its needs.

All elements of nature are the environment. The concept of environment does not include objects created by man (buildings, cars, etc.), as they surround individuals, not society as a whole. However, areas of nature changed by human activities (cities, agricultural lands, reservoirs, forests) are included in the environment, as they create an environment of society.

In the presence of a good social environment and rich biological properties, the state of human health may be dependent on one more factor – the natural and climatic conditions of the habitat. A healthy person can lose his physical, mental and social well-being even in the event that his region of permanent residence is in the zone of ecological disaster. The most serious consequence of contamination of the biosphere is the genetic consequences. After all, the biosphere is not only the most important element of an integrated natural complex, but also a unique bank of genetic resources.

Factors affecting human health

Stanford college essays have already determined what the concept of environment means. The category of environment includes a combination of natural and anthropogenic factors. The latter are the factors generated by man and his economic activities and have a predominantly negative impact on man. Changes in the health status of the population due to environmental factors are methodologically difficult to study, as multifactor analysis is necessary for this.

The structure of the environment can be conditionally divided into:
  • Natural (mechanical, physical, chemical, and biological)
  • Social elements of the environment (labor, life, socio-economic structure, and information)

The conditional nature of this division is explained by the fact that natural factors act on a person under certain social conditions and are often substantially changed as a result of the production and economic activities of people. The properties of environmental factors determine the specific effects on humans.

Natural elements influence by their physical properties:
  • Hypobaria and hypoxia
  • Strengthening of the wind regime
  • Solar and ultraviolet radiation
  • Change in ionizing radiation, electrostatic air stress and ionization
  • Fluctuations in the electromagnetic and gravitational fields
  • Strengthening the rigidity of climate, etc.

Natural geochemical factors have an effect on human anomalies in the qualitative and quantitative ratio of trace elements in soil, water, air, and, consequently, the decrease in diversity and the anomalies of the ratios of chemical elements in agricultural products of local production. The action of natural biological factors is manifested in changes in macrofauna, flora and microorganisms, the presence of endemic foci of diseases of animal and plant worlds, as well as in the emergence of new allergens of natural origin.

Social factors

A group of social factors also has certain properties that can affect the conditions of a person’s life and the state of his health. So, for example, socio-economic factors are determinative and conditioned by production relations. These include:
  • Regulatory factors (legislation on labor and the practice of state and public control over its observance).
  • Socio-psychological factors that can be characterized by the attitude of the worker to work, the specialty and its prestige, the psychological climate in the team.
  • Economic factors (material incentives, a system of benefits and compensation for work in adverse conditions).
  • Technical and organizational factors have an impact on the creation of material working conditions (means, objects and tools, technological processes, organization of production, etc.).
  • Natural factors characterize the impact on the workers of climatic, geological, and biological features of the terrain where the work is taking place.

In real conditions, this complex set of factors that form the working conditions is combined with diverse mutual relations. Life influences through housing, clothing, food, water supply, development of the infrastructure of the service sector, provision of rest and conditions for it, etc. The socio-economic structure influences a person through the social and legal situation, material security, the level of culture and education.

How the changes in factors affect human health

The above structure of environmental factors clearly shows that a change in the levels of exposure to any of these factors can lead to health problems.

A person throughout his life is under constant influence of a whole range of environmental factors – from environmental to social. The indicative contribution of various factors to the health of the population is assessed in four positions: lifestyle, human genetics (biology), the external environment and health. The lifestyle has the greatest impact on health. Almost half of all cases of disease depend on it. The second place in terms of health impact is the state of the human environment (at least one third of diseases are determined by adverse environmental effects). Heredity accounts for about 20% of diseases.

A healthy organism constantly ensures the optimal functioning of all its systems in response to any changes in the environment, for example, changes in temperature, atmospheric pressure, changes in oxygen content in air, humidity, etc. The preservation of the optimal life activity of a person when interacting with the environment is determined by the fact that for his organism there is a certain physiological limit of endurance in relation to any factor of the environment and beyond the limit of this limit will inevitably have a depressing effect on human health.

Impact of anthropogenic factors on human health

Types of anthropogenic pollution of the natural environment as a result of human economic activities are diverse. They determine the chemical, physical, mechanical, acoustic, thermal, aromatic, and visual changes in the quality of the natural environment, exceeding the established standards for harmful effects. As a result, there is a threat to the health of the population, as well as the state of the plant, animal life, and accumulated material values.

Numerous anthropogenic pollutants of the environment are always potentially dangerous for humans. Experimental and full-scale studies have established that the ecopathogenic effect depends on the level and quality of the pollutant, its exposure is the so-called dose-matter-time effect. Changes in the state of health depend on the age of people, their professional activity, the initial level of health, as well as on the individual-behavioral orientation and socio-hygienic living conditions.

Chemical pollutants

The most studied is the effect on human health of environmental chemical factors – about 80 chemical elements are needed to build certain components of own cells, build hormones, enzymes, to maintain normal metabolism, etc. The problem of chemical contamination of the biosphere is seen as a manifestation of the global environmental crisis. The list of known chemical compounds is close to 20 million names, tens of thousands of them are highly toxic, and the modern generation does not have a mechanism for protecting against their aggressive effects on the body. The annual technogenic load on all objects of the biosphere is hundreds of millions of tons of chemicals that are waste products of industrial, agricultural, and transport activities. The most dangerous for human health are chemical compounds that are ubiquitous, persistently stored in environmental objects, migrate through ecological chains, entering the body with air, water, and food. The list of such substances is the main air pollutants of the big city (oxides of nitrogen, sulfur, carbon, suspended substances), heavy metals, polychlorinated biphenyls, pesticides, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and many others. Most of them are highly toxic, have a polytropic and specific effect on the human body, causing the most severe and long-term mutagenic and carcinogenic effects.

Oxides, suspended particles

In the ambient air, solid suspended particles, oxides of sulfur, nitrogen, carbon, phenol, formaldehyde are present everywhere. Sulfur oxides SO2, SO3, nitrogen NO, NO2, carbon monoxide CO are acid gases with a specific, relatively uniform nature of the effect on respiratory organs. Due to the formation of weak acids in contact with the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, they irritate and cauterize the mucous membranes, thus causing initial morphological damage to the epithelium and inhibiting local immunity. The less soluble the gases, the deeper they penetrate the respiratory tract. Oxides, primarily sulfur dioxide, are adsorbed on solid suspended particles, the depth of penetration of which into the body depends on their size: the smaller the particles, the more they enter the bronchi and alveoli. Irritation is accompanied by the release of histamine, which can lead to bronchospasm, and in the future – to the formation of asthmatic bronchitis and bronchial asthma.

Acid sprays damage not only the respiratory system. Thin epithelial film of the mucosa of the respiratory tract with abundant blood supply does not prevent the rapid absorption of contaminants in the blood and their spread within the body. Ubiquitous pollution of atmospheric air with oxides of sulfur, nitrogen, carbon is one of the causes of body hypoxia, as pollutants quickly combine with hemoglobin of blood, forming sulfaemoglobin, methemoglobin, blocking the delivery of oxygen to organs and tissues. On the background of hypoxia, redox processes in the brain, internal organs (heart, liver), muscles of the body are suppressed. Virtually all of these oxides have a polymorphic adverse effect on the morphofunctional state of the nervous, cardiovascular system, digestive organs, organs of sight and hearing, they also have gonadotropic and embryotoxic effects.

Nitrites and nitrates, entering the body, exert an expanding effect on blood vessels, cause a drop in blood pressure. The pronounced neurotropic effect of carbon monoxide in chronic exposure causes asthenovegetative phenomena, mental disturbance, toxic damage to the thyroid tissue, may contribute to its hyperplasia. The constant exposure to the population of carbon oxides, sulfur, nitrogen and other pollutants creates the prerequisites for reducing the overall resistance, performance, and, in general, chronic population fatigue, especially in large industrial cities.

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