Celebrate Earth Day: Protect the Planet and Public Health

April 22 marks the 47th annual celebration of Earth Day. This day highlights the importance of Earth—the environment—and its protection. With more than one billion people across the world taking part in this holiday each year, Earth Day is the world's largest civic observance.

This year's Earth Day campaign is Environmental and Climate Literacy. Being "environment and climate literate" means understanding climate change and how it affects and threatens the planet. The more people who are environmental and climate literate, the better able the world is to protect the environment from climate change and other threats and to advance green technology and jobs.

The health of the environment has a huge impact on public health, and, on Earth Day, health-impactful environmental achievements should be recognized. For example, the first Earth Day in 1970 helped to spur the passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water acts, which help protect people from pollution.

As the effects of climate change become more noticeable, related threats to public health are emerging. Some potential threats from climate change to public health include the following:

  • An increased spread of diseases, especially infectious diseases and those spread by mosquitos and ticks (such as chikungunya virus and Lyme disease).
  • An increase in the number of catastrophic weather events, including wildfires, floods, and droughts.
  • Longer allergy seasons and higher amounts of pollen and pollution in the air, which can affect people with allergies, asthma, and other breathing problems.

Everyone can help protect the environment. "While this year's Earth Day campaign focus is global, there is still plenty that you can do at home to make a difference," said Kasey Swanson, an environmental health sanitarian at the Barry-Eaton District Health Department.

Activities that the public can do in honor of Earth Day and to keep the environment safe include planting or donating a tree, eating less meat, and stopping the use of disposable plastic. More information on these and other activities can be found at http://www.earthday.org/take-action.

Article posted on April 18th 2017.