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adaptation
the process of adjusting or changing practices, infrastructure, and behaviors to minimize the negative effects of climate change by reducing vulnerabilities and enhancing resilience strategies to prepare for and cope with the projected impacts of climate change
Anthropocene
current geological period representing the profound impact of human activities on Earth’s ecosystems, driven by factors like industrialization, urbanization, deforestation, and fossil fuel consumption
bioaccumulation
the gradual accumulation of contaminants, such as heavy metals like mercury and lead, within the tissues of living organisms.
biological agents
significant environmental health hazards that include molds, dust mites, cockroaches, pollen, bacteria, viruses, protozoa, parasitic worms, and pet dander, saliva, and waste
biomonitoring
process of measuring and assessing the concentration of specific biological markers, such as chemicals, toxins, or pollutants, in biological samples like blood, urine, or tissue to evaluate the extent of exposure to these substances
built environment
the human-made surroundings where people live, work, and engage in recreation, including buildings, infrastructure, transportation systems, parks, and all other physical elements created by human design and construction
carcinogens
cancer-causing agents
chemical agents
chemicals like heavy metals, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), and sulfur dioxide (SO2) used in agriculture, industry, and the burning of fossil fuels for transportation and electricity
climate anxiety
anxiety associated with climate change and its effects on the planet’s health, the ecosystem, and human life
climate change
profound and lasting shifts in Earth’s climate patterns and conditions; while natural processes have historically shaped the planet’s climate, the term climate change refers to the significant and rapid alterations occurring since the mid-20th century and largely attributed to human activities
climate despair
a response to the overwhelming and seemingly insurmountable challenges posed by climate change manifested by a deep sense of hopelessness and resignation
climate justice
the fair and equitable treatment of all individuals and communities, particularly those disproportionately affected by the consequences of climate change and environmental degradation; involves addressing climate-related issues with a focus on ensuring that the burdens and benefits of climate action are distributed equitably
cumulative impacts
the total harm to humans resulting from the combination and interaction of multiple factors such as pollution, socioeconomics, and preexisting conditions
ecological grief
the emotions of loss experienced by individuals or communities due to profound changes in the ecosystem caused by climate change
environmental agents
substances or elements present in the environment that can impact human health; can include infectious organisms, chemicals, radiation, noise, and diet
environmental burden
the harm caused by environmental factors on human health and well-being, which includes damage, destruction, or impairment of natural resources
environmental epidemiology
focuses on the links between environmental exposures and human health outcomes; environmental epidemiologists identify potential environmental health hazards, quantify risk, and explore how different environmental factors, such as air and water pollution, chemicals, radiation, and climate change, impact health
environmental health
the branch of public health that aims to prevent illness, death, and disability by reducing exposure to harmful environmental conditions and promoting behavior change
environmental health hazards
conditions or factors in the environment that pose a risk to human health; can be categorized into biological, chemical, and physical agents
environmental justice
the fair and equitable treatment and meaningful engagement of every individual, irrespective of race, color, national origin, or socioeconomic status, in the development, execution, and enforcement of environmental laws and policies
Environmental Theory
a theory developed by Florence Nightingale that focuses on the impact of the environment on nursing care; involves utilizing the client’s environment to facilitate their recovery and recognizing the influence of external factors on health and well-being
exposure assessment
the process of estimating, measuring, characterizing, and modeling the frequency, magnitude, and duration of contact between individuals or populations and potentially harmful agents or substances in the environment
mitigation
strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollutants to slow the rate of change; aims to prevent the planet from warming beyond critical thresholds
mutagens
radioactive substances found in nuclear waste and radon that alter a person’s DNA
neurotoxins
substances that can lead to adverse effects on the nervous system
particulate matter
a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets; can penetrate the respiratory system, irritating the lungs and exacerbating health conditions such as asthma and bronchitis; long-term exposure to particulate matter has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, respiratory illnesses, and even premature death
physical agents
environmental conditions such as noise, temperature, vibrations, and lighting that can have an adverse impact on the quality of the environment and affect work performance
precautionary principle
directs decision makers to be proactive in safeguarding the environment and public health rather than waiting for conclusive evidence of harm; shifts the burden of proof, or responsibility, to those advocating for a particular action, such as building a new power plant, to demonstrate that it will not cause harm to the environment or community
solastalgia
psychological distress and sadness experienced by individuals when they witness the negative transformation of their home environment due to environmental changes such as climate change, deforestation, or industrial development; a nostalgia for the loss of traditional lifeways or those of one’s childhood
teratogens
substances that can cause defects in a developing embryo
toxicodynamics
examines the impact of chemicals on the body and health
toxicokinetics
the study of how chemicals are absorbed, metabolized, and eliminated
toxicology
a scientific discipline that examines how artificial or natural hazards can cause undesirable effects in living organisms
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