Environmental Hazards Disrupting Life-sustaining Ecosystems

LAHORE, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 12th Nov, 2023) Experts say environment has serious effects on human health in a number of ways, either directly by exposing people to harmful carbon-agents, or indirectly, by disrupting life-sustaining ecosystems. They says that the interaction between human health and the environmental hazards has extensively been researched and studied.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), in its recent report, said that 13 million deaths were caused annually by preventable environmental causes.

The report estimates that 24 per cent of the global disease burden (healthy life per year loss) and 23 per cent of all deaths i.e. premature mortality are attributable to environmental factors, with the environmental burden of diseases, for being 15 times higher in developing countries than in developed countries, occur due to differences in exposure to environmental risks and non-availability of access to healthcare amid the environmental reasons.

The report further said that five children in developing countries in every one minute die from Malaria or Diarrhoea.

Likewise, 100 children die every hour, as a result of exposure to indoor smoke from solid or fossil fuels and nearly 1800 people die every day in mega cities of the developing countries as a result of exposure to endangered urban air pollution. And, every month, nearly 19,000 people in developing countries die from unintentional poisonings.

Noted environmentalist Dr. Shafqat Munir Ahmad told APP that huge economic development and multiplying population is resulting in prevailing environmental degradation. Intensification of industrialization, agriculture and increasing energy use were the most severe driving forces of environmental health problems.

For developing countries, severe lack of public infrastructure, such as access to clean drinking water, lack of healthcare, sanitation issues were generating due to emerging problems of industrial pollution, as mushrooming of industrial units without planning are creating significant issues of public health, he added.

Climate change is directly posing threats to human health and well-being and this is rapidly emerging as a serious health concern worldwide, he said adding that in year 2000, climate change was estimated to be responsible for approximately 2.4 percent of worldwide diarrhoea and 6 percent of malaria.

But now, according to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) third assessment report, the world temperature is expected to further rise during the current century, implying more and increased health threats for human populations, especially in low-income countries.

Regarding the socio-environmental impacts in Lahore, noted expert Safdar Ali Shirazi said that for the past few decades, due to rapid urbanisation, the provincial metropolis has lost its aesthetically important urban tress, vegetation and around all green scenic cover.

He revealed that the loss of green cover and vegetation has been witnessed vanishing at an astonishing rate in many union councils of the city.

Former LDA director Aslam Langah told APP that environmental health hazards are not limited to the developing world, rather environmental risks have also been generated in wealthier countries and are primarily attributed to urban air and water pollution.

Noted pulmonologist, critical care physician, Dr Muhammad Ahmad said that dramatically occurrences of rising Asthma cases, throughout the global cities was increasing at at an alarming level.

He said that various environmental synthesis reports are giving precautionary warnings that further erosion of ecosystems could lead to an increase in existing diseases such as malaria and cholera, as well as a rising risk of new emerging viral diseases in the world.

To a query Ahmad said that safe drinking or bathing water in mega cities can impose serious risks (both acute and delayed) to human health, adding microbe contamination of groundwater due to arsenic rich levels and high concentration of poisonous nutrients in sewage waters due to agricultural runoff are among the most serious threats.

Heavy metals such as lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), and chromium (Cr); pesticides; organic pollutants; microplastics; and emerging contaminants are posing challenges to the human health.

They are responsible for various types of cancer, allergies, and neurological and cardiovascular disorders resulting in a large number of deaths worldwide.

Environmental Protection Department Director Naseem-Ur-Rehman Shah said that mushrooming of industrial units across the country has led to a situation where our natural resources including soil, water, fossil fuels are becoming polluted as well as getting exhausted at rapid scale.

There is pressing need to find environment friendly solutions to the problems emanating from the processes generating environmental hazards for sustainable development roadmap, he added.

Mahmood Khalid Qamar, a noted environmentalist said that amid the global environmental hazards’ conditions which include climate change, environmental degradation, natural calamities such as soil erosion, famine, floods, and rising sea level are the most common problems that restrain the path towards sustainable development.

In the race for economic development and prosperity, the earth planet is becoming more vulnerable and polluted with each passing day, he said. Likewise, technological advanced methods in agriculture and rapid industrialisation have drastically polluted the two pillars of natural resources, water and soil.

Telling remedy, he said in this connection, microbial contaminants, arsenic compounds, toxic chemicals’ contaminants created by anthropogenic activities, should be controlled immediately by limiting human activities and giving them awareness,

These human activity outcomes are rapidly involving into variety of food with increased potential to affect the natural hygiene-value, environment and human health, he said.

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