Environmental Problems and Their Influence on People’s Health

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Environmental Problems and Their Influence on People’s Health

Environmental factors affect people’s health in important ways, both positive and negative. Positive environmental factors sustain health, and promoting them is preventive medicine. They include:

o sources of nutrition (farming, hunting, fishing);

o water (drinking, cooking, cleaning, sanitation);

o air quality;

o ozone layer (protection from UV, cancers, etc);

o space for exercise and recreation;

o sanitation (waste, recycling)

Negative environmental factors are threats to health, and controlling them is public environmental health. They include:

o environmental conditions favoring disease vectors;

o invasive biota (viruses, bacteria, etc);

o environmental disruptions: floods, droughts, storms, fires, earthquakes, volcanoes;

o air quality: pollen and pollution leading to respiratory diseases or cancers;

o water quality: biotic and abiotic contaminants; integrity of water transport and treatment infrastructure;

o monitoring and management of municipal, agricultural, industrial outflows to the environment (gases, liquids, solid wastes);

o human changes of the environment that create conditions that favour disease; disturb and release noxious levels of previously bound chemicals (e.g. released mercury becomes poison); create temporary, intense, life-threatening heat islands (e.g. urban heat waves); result from nuclear, biological or chemical warfare or terrorism.

Since ancient time nature has served man, being the source of his life. For thousands of years people lived in harmony with environment and it seemed to them that natural riches were unlimited. But with the development of civilization man’s interference in nature began to increase.

Large cities with thousands of smoky industrial enterprises appear all over the world today. The by-products of their activity pollute the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land we grow grain and vegetables on.

Every year world industry pollutes the atmosphere with about 1,000 million tons of dust and other harmful substances. Many cities suffer from smog. Vast forests are cut and burn in fire. Their disappearance upsets the oxygen balance. As a result some rare species of animals, birds, fish and plants disappear forever, a number of rivers and lakes dry up.

The pollution of air and the world’s ocean, destruction of the ozone layer is the result of man’s careless interaction with nature, a sign of the ecological crises.

Environmental protection is of a universal concern. That is why serious measures to create a system of ecological security should be taken.

Some progress has been already made in this direction. As many as 159 countries (members of the UNO) have set up environmental protection agencies. Numerous conferences have been held by these agencies to discuss problems facing ecologically poor regions including the Aral Sea, the South Urals, Kuzbass, Donbass, Semipalatinsk and Chornobyl. An international environmental research centre has been set up on Lake Baikal. The international organization Greenpeace is also doing much to preserve the environment.

But these are only the initial steps and they must be carried onward to protect nature, to save life on the planet not only for the sake of the present but also for the future generations.


1. Environmental factors affect people’s health in important ways, both positive and negative, don’t they?

2. What is preventive medicine?

3. What do positive environmental factors include?

4. Is controlling negative environmental factors public environmental health?

5. What negative environmental factors do you know?

6. How did the development of civilization affect nature?

7. How much dust and other harmful substances are released to the atmosphere every year?

8. What does upset the oxygen balance?

9. What signs of the ecological crises are there?

10. What serious measurements are taken to create a system of ecological security?


Vocabulary and Speech Exercises

I. Give English equivalents of the following words and word-combinations.

Підтримувати здоров’я; джерело харчування; озоновий шар; місце для роботи та відпочинку; загроза здоров’ю; природні катастрофи: повені, шторми, пожежі, землетруси, вулкани; захворювання дихальних шляхів; живі та неживі забрудники; контроль і керівництво за промисловими викидами у навколишнє середовище; ядерна війна; природні багатства; страждати від смогу; зникнення рідкісних видів тварин, птахів, риб і рослин; забруднення повітря і світового океану; екологічна безпека; заради сучасних і майбутніх поколінь.


II. Say if the following statements are true or false. Correct the false statements to make them true.

1. Ozone layer protects us from ultraviolet rays.

2. Invasive biota includes viruses and bacteria.

3. Nuclear, biological or chemical warfare and terrorism can’t influence the environment.

4. Natural recourses are unlimited.

5. The by-products of the industrial enterprises activity pollute air, water and land.

6. Our cities don’t suffer from smog.

7. Environmental protection is a matter of universal concern.

8. 100 countries, members of the United Nations Organization, have set up environmental protection agencies.

9. The international research center has been set up in Chornobyl.

10. The international organization Greenpeace is doing much to preserve the environment.


III. Read the following supplementary text. Discuss it with your fellow students.

Chornobyl Disaster

On Saturday, April 26, 1986, at 1:23:58 a.m. local time, the fourth reactor of the Chornobyl power plant known as Chornobyl-4 suffered a catastrophic steam explosion that resulted in a fire, a series of additional explosions, and a nuclear meltdown.

Large areas of Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia were badly contaminated, resulting in the evacuation and resettlement of more than 300,000 people. About 60 per cent of the radioactive fallout landed in the neighbour republic Belarus.

Many people were affected by the disaster at Chornobyl. The accident caused many deaths. Due to the nature of radiation exposure many of the medical effects may not form until many years after the accident. These medical problems may include cancer, birth defects, and skin diseases. There is an estimate of 6,500 people that may die from cancers caused by the radiation.

The Chornobyl nuclear disaster was one of the worst disasters of all time. Effects of the disaster are continuing to show as time passes and the amount of people still suffering is tremendous. The estimated recovery time for this disaster is up to 130 years. Future generations are sure to learn from this great disaster which occurred at Chornobyl.

There have been at least 1,800 thyroid cancer cases of children who were between 0-14 years old at the time of the disaster. Other health defects include premature births, mentally ill children and children with birth defects. Additionally, many were also psychologically affected, turning to drinking and suicide.

Even now it is difficult to tally accurately tally (підраховувати) the number of deaths caused by the event at Chornobyl, as most of the expected deaths are from cancer, have not yet actually occurred, and are difficult to attribute specifically to the accident.


II. Translate into English.

1. Позитивні фактори навколишнього середовища підтримують здоров’я людини.

2. Природа є джерелом харчування; вона також забезпечує людину водою та повітрям.

3. З розвитком цивілізації зросло втручання людини в природу.

4. Світова індустрія забруднює атмосферу і світовий океан мільйонами тонн шкідливих речовин.

5. Зникнення лісів порушує кисневий баланс.

6. Захист навколишнього середовища – це справа міжнародного значення.

7. Агенції з захисту навколишнього середовища проводять численні конференції, де обговорюються проблеми екологічно забруднених регіонів Землі.

8. В результаті вибуху на Чорнобильській атомній електростанції величезні території України, Росії та Білорусії були уражені радіацією.

Grammar Exercises

The Past Conditional Mood I would have prepared a report about environmental protection in Ukraine but I was very busy yesterday. The doctor would have made a precise diagnosis but he didn’t have necessary laboratory equipment.

I. Translate the following sentences. Pay attention to theConditional Mood.

1. But for my headache I would have learnt everything dealing with ozone layer perfectly well.

2. The scientist would have attended the conference but he suddenly fell ill.

3. I would have met my friends but I had an additional seminar on Ecology.

4. But for cutting down vast forests wouldn’t have disappeared.

5. My brother would have become a member of Greenpeace but he was only 17 then.

6. But for environmental protection agencies many environmental problems of regions with poor ecology wouldn’t have been enlightened in mass media.

7. But for Chornobyl disaster thousands of people would have remained healthy

8. But for the smog inhabitants of cities wouldn’t have developed chronic respiratory diseases.

II. Translate into English.

1. Я б обов’язково відвідав лекцію про пошкодження озонового шару в результаті забруднення промисловими викидами в атмосферу, але я про неї не знав.

2. Рідкісні види риб не зникли б, якби не висихання рік і озер.

3. Науковець завершив би своє дослідження, але лабораторія втратила державне фінансування.

4. Якби не активісти громадських організацій, берег ріки не був би очищений від сміття.

5. Якби не допомога міжнародної спільноти, Україна постраждала б ще більше від аварії на Чорнобильській атомній електростанції.

6. Я б дізналася про проблему смогу у великих містах ще більше, але Інтернет чомусь зник.

7. Якби не ти, я б не стала членом природозахисної організації

8. Якби не Чорнобильська трагедія, багато українських дітей не захворіли б на рак.

Lesson 1

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