In today’s fast paced, progress-oriented world, it can be easy to forget that with the progress so many desire, there is a certain level of risk that must be taken. It is not an exaggeration to say that every day a gamble is made with the lives of every human on the planet based on the paths they take either by decisions they make consciously or unintentional situational circumstances. There is a wide range of hazards humans face every day associated with these risks; many of them are unavoidable as they are normal parts of daily life, but there are also those that people choose to face, oftentimes resulting in detriment to their health. Some of the main categories of hazards to human health are biological, physical, and cultural.Order now
Widespread infectious disease and the chaos it brings is often looked at as being a relic of past generations overcome by the miracles of modern medicine. However, both transmissible and nontransmissible infectious diseases are still serious biological health threats, particularly in less-developed countries. Transmissible diseases are ones which can be spread from person to another, such as influenza or strep throat. Nontransmissible diseases, on the other hand, are not contagious. They include things such as cancers and asthma. Both types of infectious diseases are caused by pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, or sometimes parasites. There are many ways these pathogens find their way into the bodies of their victims, including through contact with wild animals, livestock, insects, pets, or other humans. Even contaminated food, water, or the air someone breathes can potentially infect him or her with a disease causing agent. For this reason, it can be said that some diseases are never entirely unavoidable. Once inside the body, the pathogen multiplies in cells and tissues in order to spread and wreak its havoc.
Flus and pneumonia are the most common infectious killer yearly, claiming the lives of more than 3 million people. They are followed by HIV and AIDS related deaths reaching almost 2 million, diarrheal diseases 1.6 million, tuberculosis 1.3 million, measles eight hundred thousand, malaria seven hundred and eighty thousand, and Hepatitis B six hundred thousand. That adds up to an average of 1,150 hourly deaths, most of which are preventable with the proper medical care. This might lead to questions as to why they are not prevented, but it most assuredly would not be the choice of these people to die. The culprit in many of these cases is poor health care in underdeveloped countries paired with a lack of education on the subject. People may have no access to vaccinations and not know when to seek treatment. Even when treatment is available, there are still issues in dealing with infectious diseases.
Illness-causing viruses can evolve quickly, kill large numbers of people when spread, and are not affected by antibiotic use. This makes them difficult to deal with sometimes even under favorable circumstances. Some examples of recent emergent diseases, ones that were previously unknown or unheard of for a number of years, are caused by the West Nile virus. The West Nile virus can cause encephalitis and viral meningitis, which affect the brain and spinal cord. Between 1999 and 2009, severe illnesses caused by this virus have been seen in more than 23,500 people, and in that time it killed more than 1,000. The virus is transmitted through bites of mosquitoes carrying it that become infected after biting certain kinds of birds. Since a noticeable number of people have died or been in danger of death from it, the spread of the West Nile virus has in recent years become a concern for some health officials. It still, however, has not become big enough of a biological threat as to overshadow the widespread damage done by any type of flu.
The number of people killed by infectious diseases since 1900 when their incidence was the leading cause of death in the world has been significantly reduced. This can be attributed to advancements in medical technologies such as the advent of antibiotics and their popularization. Unfortunately, poorer countries are often left behind in the developments of the medical field. As of 2008, there were still 7.7 million children under the age of five that died from preventable diseases such as malaria and pneumonia annually. This is due mostly to poverty, so it can be said that it is a cultural hazard as well as biological. The children usually do not have access to neither the educational nor medical facilities that would be necessary to inform them on how to prevent the spread of disease, so the cycle of infection continues. Some things the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests for better health globally are: increasing research on tropical diseases and vaccines, reducing poverty, decreasing malnutrition, educating people on proper antibiotic use, requiring careful handwashing by all medical personnel, immunizing children against major viral diseases, and conducting global campaigns to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS. These steps may lower annual deaths caused by infectious diseases even further.
Physical hazards to human health include natural disasters like floods, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, or volcanic eruptions. Much of the risk associated with hazards like these is created by a person’s geographic location. For example, people living in a town built close to a fault line are certain to have more seismic activity in their area than others in a town located further away. No matter where someone lives, there are likely to be some unavoidable physical hazards he or she must face eventually. This is why organizations such as the U.S.’s National Weather Service take it upon themselves to provide warnings of potentially dangerous conditions as early as possible to avoid the serious injury or death of anyone in an area. Measures against floods such as dams or some reservoirs can be taken in order to lessen a flood’s negative impact on an area. Despite the instability of impending eruption, there are still large numbers of people today that choose to disregard the dangers of living within risk limits of active volcanoes. In the case of an eruption, evacuation would be someone’s only hope of surviving a volcano’s peril; if molten rock did not kill them, the volcanic ash and gases assuredly would. Precautions can be taken against these physical hazards, yet they still are seemingly unavoidable.
Cultural hazards to human health are the hazards most likely to be the result of choice rather than chance. They can come from unhealthy lifestyle choices or living conditions. Poverty is one cultural hazard, which as mentioned above can lead to the spread of disease throughout communities. Smoking cigarettes or being exposed to secondhand smoke leads to the deaths of almost 15 thousand people daily from illnesses such as cancers, heart disease, stroke, and bronchitis. The WHO states that the lifespan of a typical smoker is reduced on average by fifteen years because of the occurrence of these illnesses. The damage cigarettes do to lungs compounded with damage from exposure to air pollutants is enough to kill 443 thousand Americans annually. Despite these facts, in 2009 21% of Americans still smoked. Driving is another hazardous choice. Driving to work every day is likely the most dangerous thing many people do, but since it is so integral a part of their lives, most disregard its risk. For every 3,300 people that drive (wearing a seatbelt), one of them die. A large part of this issue is that people do not think the unfortunate events that happen to others in these situations can happen to them. This is having what is known as optimism bias, and applies to any decision a person makes with the false belief that he or she is inherently safe.
To conclude, it would appear that with these many hazards and the risks they entail, no person is ever entirely safe. It is an unfortunate reality that all humans must face their mortality at some point, but biological, physical, and cultural hazards may accelerate the timeline on which this would naturally occur. Whenever conditions allow, it is important for everyone that is able to assess risks before taking actions in order to live the safest, longest, and most satisfactory lives possible.