Health protection

Tenkate, Thomas D. (2009) Health protection. In Fleming, Mary-Lou & Parker, Elizabeth (Eds.) Introduction to Public Health. Elsevier Australia, Sydney, pp. 247-279.

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Our understanding of how the environment can impact human health has evolved and expanded over the centuries, with concern and interest dating back to ancient times. For example, over 4000 years ago, a civilisation in northern India tried to protect the health of its citizens by constructing and positioning buildings according to strict building laws, by having bathrooms and drains, and by having paved streets with a sewerage system (Rosen 1993).

In more recent times, the ‘industrial revolution’ played a dominant role in shaping the modern world, and with it the modern public health system. This era was signified by rapid progress in technology, the growth of transportation and the expansion of the market economy, which lead to the organisation of industry into a factory system. This meant that labour had to be brought to the factories and by the 1820s, poverty and social distress (including overcrowding and infrequent sewage and garbage disposal) was more widespread than ever. These circumstances, therefore, lead to the rise of the ‘sanitary revolution’ and the birth of modern public health (Rosen 1993).

The sanitary revolution has also been described as constituting the beginning of the first wave of environmental concern, which continued until after World War 2 when major advances in engineering and chemistry substantially changed the face of industry, particularly the chemical sector. The second wave of environmental concern came in the mid to late 20th century and was dominated by the environmental or ecology movement. A landmark in this era was the 1962 publication of the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. This identified for the first time the dramatic effects on the ecosystem of the widespread use of the organochlorine pesticide, DDT. The third wave of environmental concern commenced in the 1980s and continues today. The accelerated rate of economic development, the substantial increase in the world population and the globalisation of trade have dramatically changed the production methods and demand for goods in both developed and developing countries. This has lead to the rise of ‘sustainable development’ as a key driver in environmental planning and economic development (Yassi et al 2001).

The protection of health has, therefore, been a hallmark of human history and is the cornerstone of public health practice. This chapter introduces environmental health and how it is managed in Australia, including a discussion of the key generic management tools. A number of significant environmental health issues and how they are specifically managed are then discussed, and the chapter concludes by discussing sustainable development and its links with environmental health.

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ID Code: 32931
Item Type: Book Chapter
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Environmental Health, Hazards, Climate Change, Sustainability
ISBN: 9780729538909
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (111705)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 Elsevier
Deposited On: 24 Jun 2010 22:47
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2010 22:47

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