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How the environment affects our health

The environment can be one of the causes of alterations in your health.

Noise, pollution, water quality or excess chemicals in your life are some of the environmental factors that can cause deterioration in your body .

Although the environment in which you live can be beneficial for you because it has green areas nearby, it can also be harmful, since it can cause a multitude of changes to your health.

Since we cannot avoid being exposed to certain factors, here we explain how the environment affects our health, so that you are prepared and know how to act in time.

The important relationship between health and the environment

It is important to know in depth the environment in which we live to be able to detect if our health problems are related to the environment.

For example, simply the quality of the air or water can cause, in the long term, serious problems in your body. Even noise can be harmful, since the lack of rest can affect the proper functioning of certain vital processes.

Health is not just a matter of “genetic predisposition”, lack of exercise or more or less poor nutrition, which also have an influence. There are other factors that cannot be controlled because they are outside of oneself , such as the environment.

The importance of this issue is such that organizations such as the WHO (World Health Organization) devote great efforts to studying the relationship between health and the environment.

Effects of environmental pollution on health

planting grass

It is such a serious problem that there is even a branch related to health called Environmental Health .

In Spain, the Ministry of Health has listed a series of negative health effects that we can attribute to environmental factors .

For example, respiratory diseases , such as asthma or allergies, may be related to air pollution. What’s more, air pollution can also cause coronary heart disease or heart failure.

Also heavy metals , such as pesticides, can cause neurological developmental disorders . There are even certain types of childhood cancer that can be related to physical, chemical and biological agents, such as tobacco smoke.

Noise is another factor to take into account, as it can cause concentration problems, changes in mood, irritability and even cardiovascular disorders . Therefore, be careful when performing everyday actions such as turning the volume on the TV too high or talking loudly on the street.

Not to mention something as natural as sunbathing, since ultraviolet radiation is one of the main causes of skin cancer.

Environmental Medicine tries to respond to this problem and studies how to improve the quality of life of people who may suffer from diseases such as:

  • Electrosensitivity or electromagnetic hypersensitivity
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
  • Parkinson
  • Alzheimer
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Endometriosis or even infertility.

Main polluting agents

In the air

Despite the fact that air is vital for human life, the WHO estimates that 9 out of 10 people breathe polluted air . Nitrogen dioxide, tropospheric ozone and sulfur dioxide, among others, are the main polluting agents in the air.

These types of agents have their origin in city traffic, heating, industries, refineries or incinerators, or even the burning of garbage.

In water

The water is not spared from contamination either. In fact, contaminated water causes more than 500,000 deaths a year worldwide . Among the main effects it can cause are diarrhea and the transmission of diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid fever and poliomyelitis.

Bacteria, viruses, parasites, fertilizers, pesticides, drugs, nitrates, phosphates, plastics, fecal waste, and even radioactive substances can be present in the water and contaminate it.

You have to be careful, because these elements do not always stain the water, so we will not always be able to detect this contamination with the naked eye.


The environment influences both the quantity and the quality of the food we consume. The climate of the area, the soil, or even the altitude and latitude determine the type of food that is produced and consumed in each region.

In this sense, bacteria are the main source of environmental contamination of food, in addition to, of course, heavy metals or other chemical substances .

Some of the most frequent bacteria are salmonella, E. coli or listeria, the cause of the contaminated meat that caused several outbreaks of listeriosis in Andalusia in 2019.

The importance of having health insurance

Experts agree on the importance of carrying out appropriate diagnostic tests in patients with this type of pathology, in addition to avoiding exposure to harmful agents such as: pesticides, cleaning products, chemical additives in food, cosmetics, fabric softeners, radiation emitted by telephone masts or wireless devices etc

Regular reviews , vaccinations and keeping track of the substances we consume and that can cause a reaction or intolerance are vital. Once a health problem is detected, it is important to immediately see a specialist to prevent the problem from escalating.

For this reason, having private health insurance will allow you quick access to a specialist’s consultation and specific diagnostic tests.

Thus, you will be able to tackle the problem as specific as those that these toxic agents can cause as soon as possible, and prevent the damage to your body from being greater.  

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