The environment and health are inextricably linked. Living in an environment you are happy in is proven to improve a person’s quality of life and health. Access to green spaces, climate change and environmental health factors such as air quality, contaminated land, public nuisance (noise, pest control,dust etc.) environmental crime and dog control all affect the environments in which people live. All of this affects people’s quality of life and overall health and wellbeing.
Natural green spaces can have a positive impact on health by providing venues for physical activities to help to reduce the risk of a range of health conditions associated with an inactive lifestyle. Health activities in green spaces can also help with rehabilitation, for example low level walking activities for people who are recuperating from cardiac problems. Green spaces can also promote improved mental health and wellbeing. Undertaking positive activities in green spaces has been proven to improve wellbeing, for example gardening on allotment sites, volunteering activities and taking part in team building activities.
Healthy environments are essential to the achievement of long-term improvements in the health of the population, in creating and maintaining sustainable communities. Conversely, environmental degradation and global changes in climate, habitat, energy supplies and other key stressors can all have significant health consequences.
Poor air quality is a significant public health issue and can be a result of vehicle emissions, industrial process emissions and bonfires. Air pollution is associated with a myriad of health problems including respiratory diseases such as emphysema and bronchitis, asthma, impaired lung development in children, premature births and low birth weight, lung cancer and heart disease.
It has been estimated that particulate air pollution in the UK is a contributor in nearly 29,000 deaths in 2008 and is associated with 340,000 life years lost.
The full JSNA report can be accessed here: Environment JSNA