What is environmental health safety?

Environmental health refers to external factors that may affect the health of human beings. These external factors may be physical, chemical and biological. Environmental health safety can be assured as long as there are organizations that focus on prevention of and response to environmental health disasters.

Global Environmental Health Safety

Environmental health safety on a global scale deals primarily with issues related to rising populations, war and impact on developing countries. Higher populations can create an environment for the breakdown of environmental health safety. Greater numbers of people tax the natural environment (water and other natural resources) as well as the manufactured environment (power and water-purification plants).


Regional Environmental Health Safety

Environmental health safety on the regional scale is similar to that of the global scale. Issues like air pollution, water safety and energy production vary between regions. A small population may not have the levels of air pollution that a large city does, so fewer respiratory illnesses will be seen. Water safety usually can be assured when the levels of regional water are sufficient for the local population, but when a population outgrows its clean water source, public health can be jeopardized. Energy production is similar in that an overtaxed electrical grid runs the risk of shutting down.

Local Environmental Health Safety

Waste treatment, pest control, food safety, indoor air and injuries are among the environmental health issues dealt with locally. The first three are necessary to prevent bacterial, fungal and viral infections; indoor air quality must be maintained to assure respiratory health; injuries at home and at the workplace may seem a minor issue, but when regulations aren’t in place it can be difficult to assign responsibility for injuries and their treatment.

Key Organizations Related to Environmental Health in the U.S.

In the United States, the main organization dedicated to environmental health safety is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which was established in 1970 as the key organization for environmental health in the U.S. Other organizations include the Food and Drug Administration, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy’s Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management.

Films of Interest

There are movies that touch on issues related to environmental health. “Erin Brockovich” (2000) is the most well-known environmental health movie. Others include “Food, Inc.” (2009), “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006) and “The Constant Gardener” (2005).


World Health Organization

“Environmental Health: From Global to Local; Howard Frumkin; 2005.

Grinning Planet – Environmental Movie Index

More Information:

World Health Organization

Environmental Protection Agency

United States Department of Agriculture

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