Environmental disease

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Not to be confused with environmental burden of disease.

In epidemiology, environmental diseases are diseases that can be directly attributed to environmental factors (as distinct from genetic factors or infection). Apart from the true monogenic genetic disorders, environmental diseases may determine the development of disease in those genetically predisposed to a particular condition. Stress, physical and mental abuse, diet, exposure to toxins, pathogens, radiation, and chemicals found in almost all personal care products and household cleaners are possible causes of a large segment of non-hereditary disease. If a disease process is concluded to be the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factor influences, its etiological origin can be referred to as having a multifactorial pattern.

There are many different types of environmental disease including:[1]

Categories of environmental disease[edit]

There are many other diseases likely to have been caused by common anions found in natural drinking water. Fluoride is one of the most common found in drier climates where the geology favors release of fluoride ions to soil as the rocks decompose. In Sri Lanka, 90% of the country is underlain by crystalline metamorphic rocks of which most carry mica as a major mineral. Mica carries fluoride in their structure and releases to soil when decomposes. In the dry and arid climates, fluoride concentrates on top soil and slowly dissolves in shallow groundwater. This has been the cause of high fluoride levels in drinking water where the majority of the rural Sri Lankans obtain their drinking water from backyard wells. High fluoride in drinking water has caused very high incidence of fluorosis among dry zone population in Sri Lanka. However, in the wet zone, high rainfall effectively removes fluoride from soils where no fluorosis is evident.

The iodine deficiency has also been noted in some parts of Sri Lanka which has been identified as a result of iodine fixation by hydrated iron oxide found in lateritic soils in wet coastal lowlands.

The U.S. Coast Guard has developed a Coast Guard-wide comprehensive system for surveillance of workplace diseases.

The American Medical Association's fifth edition of the Current Medical Information and Terminology (CMIT) was used as a reference to expand the basic list of 50 Sentinel Health Events (Occupational) [SHE(O)] published by the National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), September, 1983.
The expanded list of 107 sentinel events serves as a framework for the development of a computerized system of occupational health surveillance in the U.S. Coast Guard. This application of SHE(O) surveillance can have application in the early detection and prevention of environmental diseases.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Miller, Joe; Levine, Joe (2010-02-01). Biology. Pearson Prentice Hall. ISBN 9780133685190. 

The Diseases of Occupations, Sixth Edition, Donald Hunter, C.B.E., D.Sc., M.D., F.R.C.P., Hodder and Stoughton, London. ISBN 0-340-22084-8, 1978. Aviat Space Environ Med. 1991 Aug;62(8):795-7.