Creating environmental health standards

Enironmental health standards are necessary to preserve the living environment of people and address the continuing health problems caused by pollution and other environmental problems. Creating environmental health standards is a primary means for enabling people to address local environmental problems.

Standards are not an end in themselves- they are intended to protect, improve and maintain the public's health. Important steps in standard setting include: recognition of the need for a standard; collection of relevant information on the health outcome; collection of relevant information on the determinants of the need and the health outcome, e.g. exposures, practices etc; linkage between the need and the health outcome e.g. exposure response relationships; determination of a proposed health-based standard; consideration of methods of measuring the standard; political/social/economic influences on the final standard to reduce risk to an acceptable and affordable level. These steps usually lead to the enactment of legislation and the further evaluation and improvement of the standard.

There are three basic classification types for standards usually used: structure standards, dealing with the existence of specific facilities e.g in industry; process standards, dealing with specific processes or practices e.g. in industry, or maintenance of equipment e.g. personal protective equipment in the workplaces, or emission standards in industry; and outcome standards, which are generally concerned with public health and wellbeing.

Air is polluted with industrial and automotive exhaust. Food and water are tainted by health-threatening pesticides and other chemicals. Air is unfit to breathe, water unsafe to drink, industrial wastes poison entire communities.

Environmental health comprises those aspects of human health, including quality of life, that are determined by physical, chemical, biological, social and psychosocial factors in the environment.

Counter Claim:
Most health and environmental standards are set to protect the average, healthy adult, not children, or millions of others more vulnerable to environmental hazards. Most standards assume that people are exposed to each hazard individually, instead of dozens of different ones in our air, food, and water every day. Depending where people live, millions are also exposed to more than average amounts of these hazards. And these hazards ignore national boundaries, leaving local and national laws inadequate to protect our health.
Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 15: Life on Land