La salud humana y el medioambiente

In this stage of life, human health and the environment are closely intertwined, influencing each other. Every breath we take, every sip of water we drink, connects us to the world around us. However, we rarely pause to reflect on the magnitude of this connection and how our daily actions impact our health and the planet’s well-being. Humans rely on the natural world surrounding them, yet, surprisingly, not quite the other way around.

A healthy environment is vital to “ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages” as indicated by the World Health Organization


Environmental public health, which refers to the intersection between the environment and public health, addresses the environmental factors that influence human health, including physical, chemical, and biological factors and all behaviors related to these factors. Collectively, these conditions are referred to as environmental health determinants.

Threats to any of these determinants can adversely affect human health and the well-being of the entire population. Addressing environmental health determinants directly improves the health of populations. Indirectly, it also enhances productivity and increases enjoyment of non-health-related goods and services.


Air, water, and soil pollution, along with exposure to toxic chemicals, pose significant threats to our health. The World Health Organization estimates that a considerable percentage of the global burden of morbidity and mortality is attributed to environmental factors, highlighting the direct relationship between human health and the environment. This underscores the urgency of addressing these challenges comprehensively.


Today, there are several health effects presumed to be caused by environmental factors. Here are some examples:

  • Respiratory diseases, asthma, and allergies due to air pollution, whether indoors or outdoors.
  • Developmental neurological disorders caused by heavy metals, Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) such as dioxins, PCBs, and pesticides.
  • Childhood cancer is attributed to various physical, chemical, and biological agents (e.g., tobacco smoke exposure in the household, and parental occupational exposure to solvents).
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke during pregnancy increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), low birth weight, reduced lung function, asthma, respiratory infections, and middle ear infections.
  • Pesticides likely affect immune status, disrupt endocrine processes, cause neurotoxic disorders, and contribute to cancer.
  • Ultraviolet radiation can suppress immune response and is a major source of skin cancer.
  • Research shows that exposure to high or persistent noise levels near schools can negatively impact students’ learning.

Our absolute dependence on the environment makes us vulnerable to major environmental changes such as climate change, a process with significant consequences for human health and the environment, as detailed in another section. These changes can lead to severe disruptions in ecosystems and the health of both humans and animals. 


Recognizing the close relationship between human health and the environment is the first step in addressing environmental determinants, and it requires a collective effort from individuals, communities, governments, and organizations. From monitoring and controlling pollution to promoting sustainable agricultural practices and mitigating climate change, we all have a role to play in protecting our health and our environment.

Establishing a causal link between environmental factors and adverse effects on human health and the environment is crucial for addressing these issues. The variability of environmental burden, different exposure pathways, and the complexity of contributing factors make understanding these relationships challenging. However, through ongoing research and concerted action, we can move towards a deeper understanding of these problems.

The importance of collective action is clear in protecting our health by safeguarding our environment. By addressing environmental determinants of human health and the environment and working together to mitigate environmental risks, we can forge a healthier and more sustainable future for everyone.