International Changes in Environmental Conditions and Their Personal Health Consequences

  • Beth Ann Fiedler


Earth in the balance must consider the international changes in the physical and social environmental conditions resulting from global climate change, economic development, conflict, and other factors. Regardless of what side of the political fence individuals may land relating to climate change, the mounting evidence of air pollution, hazardous chemicals, water scarcity, land conversion, and biodiversity loss are evident. So too is their link to increased metabolic risk factors that damage human organ systems eliciting negative health outcomes (e.g., asthma, neurobehavioral disorders, and zoonotic infectious diseases) leading to morbidity and mortality. Together, these environmental and consequent health conditions should prompt civic engagement to reduce shared risks and consequences. This chapter reports a broad scope of the health disorders from the leading global environmental causes of death, such as pollution, land degradation and land use, providing an overview of key environmental and social problems and social responsibilities facing less-developed, emerging, and industrialized nations. Then moves on to discuss social considerations in two areas: (1) public participation found in environmental impact assessments, and (2) how income inequality in the social environment and social foundation may impact government structure and capitalism. Finally, the chapter brings forth multi-government levels of environmental and public health resources in the United States to prompt civic engagement, address personal behavior patterns and environmental risks. The chapter concludes with a discussion on the role of individual participation towards resolving environmental conditions and their health consequences.


Civic engagement Climate change Noncommunicable disease Communicable disease 



The author would like to thank the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Organization for Economic Development (OECD) for access to their reliable and consistent research. Analysis, interpretation, and conclusions drawn from WHO and OECD source material remain the sole responsibility of the author. Special thanks to Naz Onel for helpful commentary on the final first draft.



Organic compound generated naturally in crude oil, volcanic eruption, and forest fires but used as an additive to produce industrial lubricants, detergents, rubber, plastics, nylon, and pesticides.

Built environment

Surrounding features, such as buildings or bridges, that human beings construct.


A system of politics and economic development where private versus government ownership of business entities control industry motivated by profit or return on investments.

Climate resilience

The process of developing sustainable options in response to environmental stressors intensified by climate change (e.g., limited freshwater supply coupled with drought).

Clinical protocols

A treatment regimen for disease management developed in response to evidence-based standards and peer consensus otherwise identified as best practices.

Economic Problem

The difficulty in balancing population needs that consume national resources against the reality of limited resources.


Liquid form of emission waste derived from industrial processing of materials.


Waste derived from industrial processing of materials into the environment in the form of gas (i.e., carbon emissions) or solids (i.e., lead, particulate matter).

Environmental impact assessment (EIA)

Analysis that determines economic, environmental, and political feasibility of projects prior to development to minimize environmental impact.


The likelihood of a plan or project to achieve success.


Strong-smelling gas used in constructing walls and furniture appearing in glue, insulation, and particle board; appear in some personal hygiene products such as soap, toothpaste, and cosmetics labeled are urea, methanol, and others.

Income inequality

An unequal distribution of national wealth that sharply divides members of that economy by their status as rich or poor; a measure of the unequal wealth distribution generating a widening gap or indicating a hole in reported individual income where socioeconomic classes are concentrated at the high end for relatively few and low for an increasing number of people.


Infrastructure is the interconnected system of the physical, natural, and social components that societies need to survive and function (NSCE 2017).

Ischemic heart disease

The most common of several cardiovascular diseases resulting in damage or disease to the coronary arteries (major vessels supplying the heart with blood, nutrients, and oxygen).

Natural/physical environment

Natural features of the geographical surroundings such as mountains, lakes, and plants; natural landscape.

Particulate matter

Small, harmful airborne particles (e.g., lead, aerosols) suspended in the atmosphere that impact climate and human health.

Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)

The capacity of certain chemicals to travel over long distances.

Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)

An example of a persistent industrial use organic pollutant that causes environmental harm at locations beyond the area of original use.

Social environment

Personal impact of cultural influence, level of institutional development, and physical location influencing the capacity to interact with others.

Social foundation

Various interpretations including a list of basic needs found in access to such items as water, nutrition, and healthcare but inclusive of human rights such as fair political representation and equitable governance.

Systolic blood pressure

The peak pressure occurring at the end of the cardiac cycle when the ventricles (pumping chambers of the heart) contract, reported as the first number; whereas diastolic in the second and minimum number reported, measures the beginning of the cardiac cycle when the ventricles fill with blood.


Clear, flammable industrial solvent toxic to nervous system and normally found in aerosol form used as a degreaser in cleaning products for cars or dry cleaning for clothing.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Organic chemicals normally produced consequently to industrial processing (e.g., solvents) generating emissions harmful to human health.


Can refer to a specific population identified by certain characteristics (i.e., low income, ethnic, female) that place them at greater risk of poor health; populations that are exposed to the conditions of climate change with limitations on their capacity to adapt.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Beth Ann Fiedler
    • 1
  1. 1.Independent Research AnalystJacksonvilleUSA

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