“Poor environmental quality is estimated to be directly responsible for approximately 25 percent of all preventable ill health in the world (17).”
Environmental quality is a worldwide concern, with numerous infectious diseases, pesticide use and chemical waste hazards. Social and physical environments are major contributors to health in the population of a community. The physical environment includes air, water, and soil. The social environment includes housing, transportation, industry, agriculture, urban development and transportation.
Major efforts at the national level, as well as state, local and tribal level, to clean up and manage waste sites and sewages, purify drinking water, control air pollutants and ensure the foods we eat are safe, have helped to decrease the human diseases caused by environmental contaminants; but more needs to be done. Increased research needs to be carried out in order to evaluate the effects and impact exposure to these hazardous materials may have on human health (17).
The three main risk factors for cancer are genetic, personal health and the environment. Genetics are uncontrollable; where diet and physical activities are something people do have some control over. Environmental issues are controlled or maintained by the population as a whole, through the laws and regulations voted for and enacted.
There has been much evidence to support the claim that environmental issues play a major role in cancer formation. Estimates of site-specific cancer rates have been known to differ dramatically, depending on the part of country one lives. This is evidenced when migration occurs from one country to the next and cancer characteristics found in the migrating individual are identifiable to the country of migration (18).
Exposure to elements in the air, water, food, and exposure to materials in work places are major contributors to illness and disease, as well as disability and death throughout the world.
Some diseases and infections are found early, such as diarrhea and respiratory problems, but other health problems may go unnoticed for many years. Cancer is a disease that can develop over many years and is therefore difficult to study.
Many causal factors are associated with the development of cancer, such as genetics, dietary and smoking habits, as well as environmental issues. This can sometimes make it difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the cancer.
Focus areas in the US include outdoors air quality, water quality, toxics and waste, healthy homes and communities, infrastructure and surveillance, and global environmental health (17).