The environment that an individual or community lives in has been shown to impact health. For example, the quality of our surrounding built environment is one factor that impacts our safety and well-being. The built environment includes things like access to safe walking conditions and access to physical activity like bike lanes and parks. Access to healthy food and smoke-free zones are also examples of the built environment.
The quality and health of our surrounding natural environment, such as our water supply and our air, also affect our health. Increasing populations and development is putting added stress on the environment and is resulting in environmental contamination. Issues such as vector-borne and zoonotic diseases, water contamination, airborne contaminants, and food-borne disease are posing increasing risk to public health. For instance, there is growing evidence that chronic exposure to certain chemicals or toxins, whether they’re present in the workplace, in the home, products we use, or the water we drink and foods we eat, is linked with a higher risk for developing different cancers. An example of this is a person exposed to asbestos on a daily basis for their occupation is at an elevated risk for developing mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the lungs.
Our built environment, air quality, and access to clean water account for 10% of our predicted health outcomes.