Until today the topics environment and health are often looked upon in different and separate projects. This does not reflect the reality. Every impact on the environment has consequently an impact on the health of humans and also animals. The health of the human population worldwide is extremely endangered by the impact of the environmental pollution. Governments as well as people worldwide do not acknowledge this fact adequately.
The research field environmental health has been created by the World Health Organization in 1999. Environmental health addresses all the physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person, and all the related factors impacting behaviors. It encompasses the assessment and control of those environmental factors that can potentially affect health. It is targeted towards preventing disease and creating health-supportive environments.
The utmost importance of intensifying the research on environmental health issues has been demonstrated and proofed in a drastic / dramatic way by the outbreak and duration on the Corona pandemic which holds the world/earth in a kind of stranglehold for more than a year.
During the previous EnviroInfo conferences, since 2016 the Environmental Health Informatics session has been successfully performed. This year we put the emphasis on the environmental causes and impact of the Corona pandemic.
Much attention is put now on the health side of the pandemic in designing vaccines and cures which treat the effect and not the original cause. Then environmental impacts of the pandemic are looked upon. These are pragmatic and straight forward approaches which are essential in the current situation.
However, for coping with and preventing zoonotic diseases like Covid 19, the environmental causes should be focused and lessons taken out of the findings. We know diseases passed from animals to humans (zoonotic diseases) are on the rise, as the world continues to see unprecedented destruction of wild habitats by human activity.
The same human activities that drive climate change and biodiversity loss also drive pandemic risk through their impacts on our environment. Changes in the way we use land; the expansion and intensification of agriculture; and unsustainable trade, production and consumption disrupt nature and increase contact between wildlife, livestock, pathogens and people.
These subjects have to be addressed in combination with modelling, databases, information systems, evaluation aspects, and statistics in order to respect the assessment and control factor of environmental health.
Topics of the track:
Assessing health implications of indoor air quality for energy-efficient manufactured homes
With atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) now at the highest level in human history, it is imperative that emissions be reduced – and energy efficiency is considered essential to achieving global climate targets. In the United States, data from 2020 indicate that the electric power sector accounts for about a third of energy-related CO2 emissions, and the residential sector accounts for about a sixth of U.S. energy consumption. These data illustrate that increasing the energy efficiency of homes could reduce residential electricity demand, thereby reducing emissions of CO2 and other pollutants from carbon-intensive power plants. While making homes more airtight will have a substantial benefit of conserving energy and reducing indoor exposures to ambient (outdoor) pollutants, it is expected to somewhat increase the indoor levels of pollutants that are generated indoors – such as from cooking and cleaning. Therefore, an assessment of potential impacts to indoor air quality and health will provide useful context for energy conservation standards being developed for manufactured homes. Relatively few data are available regarding air quality in homes, particularly manufactured homes. Meanwhile, long-standing toxicity and risk estimators for certain exposures are being updated (including for inhaling acrolein, which is generated during cooking oils or foods with fats). This presentation describes the approach for assessing health effects from indoor exposures to several pollutants to inform energy conservation standards. Some pollutants are being evaluated quantitatively while others are addressed qualitatively. The latter include ozone, which can be generated by home air cleaners (increasingly used during the pandemic). The scenarios assessed encompass baseline conditions (per existing energy efficiency standards) and future conditions that might result from new energy conservation standards that would make homes more airtight. Results can help inform mitigation measures, such as bringing attention to the importance of operating range hoods to reduce exposures to pollutants emitted during cooking.
COVID-19 Impacts: Zoonotic Diseases, Employment, Food Insecurity, Future Challenges
The past year and a half of unforeseen challenges brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak have created many challenges worldwide. While the origin is still being debated, the outbreak has affected all countries. Many countries brought their commerce to a halt. Employees lost their positions due to lack of income on the part of their employers, and many were terminated while others were kept on at a reduced income level. This led to the need for government intervention to provide income necessary for people to survive. While some governments took minor steps and avoided significant impact, others took major steps and held them for lengthy periods making it difficult for the economy to function.
Agricultural economists have utilized existing government and other data or collected their own data to analyze implications of numerous aspects of the COVID-19 outbreaks. This paper provides some insights on the implications of the COVID-19 actions including zoonotic diseases, employment issues, household food insecurity and waste, and future challenges and opportunities.
Environmental implications of single-use plastic wastes from COVID-19 and opportunities to reduce future impacts
A recent study found that illegal dumping and littering of waste plastics are widespread in the United States, despite an infrastructure to readily manage these wastes. A 2010 estimate suggested that from 5 to 13 million metric tons of plastic waste entered U.S. coastal environments that year, and by 2016 that estimate had increased up to five-fold. Single-use plastics are a particular issue, and efforts have been under way for years to move away from linear production, use, and discard toward a circular economy. During the COVD-19 pandemic, the production and use of single-use plastics rose dramatically in response to urgent demands for personal protective equipment (PPE) to help control exposures, in addition to increased use of other materials such as fast-food containers. Unfortunately, many single-use plastics land in the environment at their end of life, further exacerbating the global challenge of waste plastics. A recent analysis of the disposition of single-use plastics estimated that a staggering 1.6 million metric tons of waste plastics might have been generated daily due to the pandemic, including an estimated 3.4 billion single-use face shields and masks – many of which were discarded as litter. Data from studies regarding potential hazards associated with these materials in the environment (including generation of microplastics and potential release of chemical additives) can be combined with estimates of the amounts used in order to assess implications for environmental health. For this assessment, input has been sought from manufacturers on the composition of common PPE, notably face masks. These data are being integrated to assess opportunities for biobased, biodegradable replacements, with a goal of having more environmentally benign single-use products available in time for the next pandemic, to reduce the environmental impacts of those wastes.
Dr. Kristina Voigt, 97, Rt. de Luxembourg, L – 6562 Echternach, Luxembourg
Dr. Margaret MacDonell, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL, USA
Please contact the organizer in case you are not sure whether your working topic is of interest for this special track!
Depending on your aims considering the publication of your work, we invite you to send us your abstracts or full papers according to the WebPage.
Important rules for submissions and dates can be found here.