What is the effect of environmental hazards on my health?

To understand environmental health, we must understand that everything is connected—our body systems and organs, life habits, work, and the wider environment. Environmental hazards can affect a particular organ or body system, directly damaging it and/or leading to further complications. While scientists generally test substances in labs one at a time, in real life our bodies always deal with more than one hazard at once. The combined interaction of two or more hazards may produce an effect greater than that of either one alone. The amount of exposure, the route of exposure, and the toxic substance(s) we are exposed to will determine the occurrence and the degree of health effects on us.

We can absorb toxic substances through the skin, the digestive system (eating or drinking), or the lungs. Often toxins cause damage on first contact: burns, rashes, or stomach pain. Once in the body, they can damage the internal organs and systems, and build up in the bones and tissues. Both dosage and timing may influence the development and degree of damage; we might be more vulnerable at different stages of life. In general, toxins affect women and men in similar ways; they can have an allergic reaction or liver damage, chronic headaches or respiratory problems, mental retardation or lung cancer, or damage to reproductive organs. Environmental hazards place extra stress on our bodies and compound any other health problems that we might have.

Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

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Our Bodies, Ourselves: A New Edition for a New Era

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.