Environmental risk management is the process of managing health risk factors in a given environment with a view of improving human health. Effective environment risk management requires the assessment of the risk factors. Environmental risk assessment is an aspect of health that entails the assessment of hazardous materials that influence human health. The assessment of health risks is important in public health because it provides perspectives, which are important in the prevention and management of diseases that emanate from exposure to hazardous materials in the environment. Given that the degree of exposure to hazardous materials varies from one environment to another, there is a need to perform environmental risk assessment and management. Exposure to hazardous materials usually causes communicable and non-communicable diseases.
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Projections show that due to increase in adverse materials in physical and social environments, non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disorders will be the cause of about 70% of all deaths by the year 2020 (Belal, 2009). Such projection is applicable in developed countries like the United Arab Emirates. As a case study, the United Arab Emirates faces a number of environmental issues, which pose significant health risks to the population. The common environmental issues in the United Arab Emirates include air pollution, contamination of water, food contamination, radiation exposure, and occupational exposure (Belal, 2009). Therefore, the primary objective of the essay is to examine and assess these environmental issues with a view of providing appropriate recommendations on managing them.
- Tobacco smoke, dust, aerosols, benzene, formaldehyde, and radon are the main pollutants of air, and thus are the main causes of lung cancer, respiratory cancer, leukemia, asthma, and cardiovascular diseases in the United Arab Emirates.
- Microbes, pesticides, heavy metals, and hydrocarbons are the major pollutants of water in the United Arab Emirates, which cause gastroenteritis, colon cancer, congenital defects, and neurological disorders.
- Methyl mercury and pesticide contaminate seafood, fruits, and vegetables in the United Arab Emirates, and thus cause neurological disorders and pesticide poisoning among humans.
- Radiations such ultraviolet radiations and power radiations, which are dominant in the United Arab Emirates, cause cancers of cornea, eyes, skin, and cataracts.
- Occupational exposure to carcinogens, leukemogens, noise, and dust in the United Arab Emirates causes lung cancer, asthma, asbestosis, silicosis, respiratory diseases, and leukemia.
Goals and Objectives
- Examine literature review of various environmental issues, which pose major health risks to humans, in the United Arab Emirates.
- To assess the main causes of food contamination in the United Arab Emirates.
- Conduct environmental risk assessment of the air pollution in the United Arab Emirates.
- Analyze risk factors and provide respective recommendations for managing the environmental issues.
Environmental risk management is essential in the management of health risk factors in the United Arab Emirates. The United Arab Emirates is a developed country that is gradually experiencing high risk factors of communicable and non-communicable diseases. Essentially, the disease burden due to the environmental issues is gradually increasing with time because of exposure to hazardous materials and change in lifestyles. According to Willis et al. (2009), air pollution ranks as the most serious environmental issue because it contributes to the high mortality rates of people in the United Arab Emirates. In this view, both the ambient air and indoor air contain pollutants that have adverse impacts on the health conditions of the population. Ambient air contains pollutants such as dust, tobacco smoke, aerosols, radon, formaldehyde, and benzene.
The ambient air pollution is the leading environmental issue because it causes about 650 deaths annually in the United Arab Emirates (Gibson & Farah, 2012). Comparatively, indoor air pollution is also common in the United Arab Emirates because people use aerosols and tobacco. The prevalence of tobacco smoking in the United Arab Emirates in among male adults is 28.1% (Belal, 2009). This means that in the United Arab Emirates, air pollutants are the most dominant form of pollutants when compared to other forms of pollutants. Willis et al. (2010) recommends that the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi should develop appropriate interventions to reduce diseases, which are triggered by various environmental issues. Hence, one of the major environmental issues is the air pollution.
Water pollution also poses significant health risk to the population in the United Arab Emirates because microbes, pesticides, and heavy metals are some of the pollutants that are dominant. Virulent microbes such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoa contaminate water, and consequently make them unsafe for drinking, washing, or irrigation. Waterborne diseases such as typhoid, cholera, dysentery, amebiasis, botulism, schistosomiasis, and hepatitis amongst others are prevalent in the United Arab Emirates because of the water pollution. Gibson and Farah (2012) state that people get exposed to microbes when they drink, wash, swim, and irrigate their farms. Given that pesticides and heavy metals percolate and leach, they contaminate ground water.
Contamination of the ground water by pesticides and heavy metals pose considerable health risks to humans as ground water is the main source of water in the United Arabs Emirates (Salaramoli, Salamat, Najafpour, Hassan, & Aliesfahani, 2012). Pesticides and heavy metals cause neurological disorders and some form of cancers. According to Willis et al. (2010), interventions aimed at mitigating health risks associated with the pollution of water should focus on the pesticides and heavy metals. Therefore, pesticides and heavy metals are some of the pollutants of water in the United Arab Emirates.
Contamination of food by methyl mercury and pesticides is a health risk in the United Arab Emirates. The release of mercury from industrial wastes into the seawater makes the mercury enter into the food chain and undergo biomagnification. The accumulation of the methyl mercury up the food chain of planktons and fishes contaminate seafood, and thus predispose humans to high levels of methyl mercy (Salaramoli, Salamat, Najafpour, Hassan, & Aliesfahani, 2012). Therefore, the seafood is not safe for human consumption because it has a contamination of methyl mercury. The use of pesticides in farming contaminates fruits and vegetables. A study shows that the United Arab Emirates uses about 10 kg of pesticides per hectare annually.
This amount of pesticides is the highest when compared to the amounts of pesticides that farmers use in the United States, India, Europe, and Japan. Hence, pesticides are the major contaminants of fruits and vegetables in the United Arabs Emirates. Moreover, according to Salaramoli, Salamat, Najafpour, Hassan, and Aliesfahani (2012), the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries ban harmful pesticides and regulates the amount the amount of pesticides that farmers apply in their farms. Hence, the use of pesticides gradually declines due to restrictions imposed on their uses.
Radiations are also contaminants that pose considerable health risks to humans. The common form of radiation is the ultraviolet radiation, which emanates from the sun. Gibson and Farah (2012) argue that depletion of the ozone layer owing to global warming allows excess solar ultraviolet radiation to reach the earth’s surface. Consequently, the excess ultraviolet radiation affects humans because it causes cancers of the skin, cornea, eyes, and cataracts. In this view, given that the United Arab Emirates is within the subtropical region where it experiences extended daytime and hot climate in the most part of the year, the population gets exposed to ultraviolet radiations.
Willis et al. (2009) state that the population of the United Arab Emirates is experiencing the effects of global warming, which is evident due to the increased ultraviolet radiation. Hence, ultraviolet radiation is common in the United Arab Emirates. Furthermore, power lines expose electromagnetic radiations to the population of the United Arab Emirates. Willis et al. (2009) assert that the electromagnetic radiations affect people who work or live near power lines. Thus, to mitigate the impact of electromagnetic radiations from the power lines, people should not build in places near the power lines.
Since the United Arab Emirates is an industrialized country, it has many international industries that employ an enormous number of people. Employees of these industries usually get exposed to carcinogens, leukemogens, dust, noise, and other chemicals, which threaten their lives. According to Gibson and Farah (2012), carcinogens and leukemogens cause cancers like lung cancer, mesothelioma, skin cancer, leukemia, and other types of cancers. Moreover, dust particles cause asthma, asbestosis, silicosis, hearing loss, and respiratory disorders. Willis et al. (2009) occupational exposure to health risks is common in manufacturing industry, agriculture, and construction industry. Hence, interventions to reduce occupational exposure to health risks should focus on increasing safety precautions in various industries that are in the United Arab Emirates.
Methodology and Measures
Given that the United Arab Emirates has many environmental issues that pose the greatest threat to human existence, there is a need to measure these environmental issues with the view of establishing the extent of pollution. Therefore, the study will assess and measure the extent of food contamination as one of the environmental issues in the United Arab Emirates. The most common contaminants of food in the United Arab Emirates are methyl mercury and pesticides (Gibson & Farah, 2012). Measurement of these levels of contaminants in water, food, and human body will indicate the risk that they pose to humans. The methodologies that the study uses in measuring the contaminants are hazard identification, toxicology, and biomonitoring, as they are accurate in assessing risks that methyl mercury and pesticides pose to human health.
Hazard identification is essential because it helps in the identification of environmental issues and characterization of their prevalence. Since methyl mercury is present in water and industrial waste, in vitro analysis will provide vital information about the presence and concentration of the methyl mercury. In this view, water and industrial wastes are the samples that the study will utilize in measuring the levels of methyl mercury, which pose considerable risk to human health.
Grandjean, Satoh, Murata, and Eto (2010) argue that empirical evidences derived from in vitro analysis are accurate in determining the level of exposure, susceptibility, and effect of chemicals on human health. In addition, the study will identify the nature of pesticides that are present in water. In this case, ground water and seawater are sources of sample water for the study. Kaakeh, Maraqa, Hasan, and Al-Marzouqi (2004) state that metalaxyl, cymoxanil, and dimethoate are some of the chemicals present in pesticides. These chemicals leach and contaminate the ground water, while some flood and contaminate the seawater. Hence, the identification of the methyl mercury and pesticides is critical in the assessment of food contamination.
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Toxicology is also an important methodology of establishing the effect of food contaminants on humans. Toxicology is essentially the study of the toxic effects of chemicals on humans or organisms. Toxicology entails examination of the toxicological mechanism of chemicals and symptoms caused by toxic chemicals. Usually, toxicology entails toxicodynamics and toxicokinetics. While toxicodynamics encompasses the effects of chemicals on the physiological functions of the body, toxicokinetics is the process through which the body takes chemicals and metabolizes them. Thus, examination of the toxicodynamics and toxicokinetics will provide a comprehensive understanding of the toxicology of methyl mercury and pesticides. Salaramoli, Salamat, Najafpour, Hassan, and Aliesfahani (2012) identify that methyl mercury and pesticides cause neurological disorders, which are evident because mothers bear children with congenital disorders that are related to neurological disorders.
Biomonitoring entails the assessment of molecular, cellular, and physiological indicators to measure the effect, exposure, and susceptibility of chemicals on organisms. Biomonitoring is the assessment of the organisms to establish if contaminants that are present in the environment. In this case, biomonitoring is an appropriate method of assessing the effects of pesticides and methyl mercury. Kapka-Skrzypczak, Cyranka, Skrzypczak, and Kruszewski (2011) state that “human biomonitoring provides an efficient and cost-effective way to identify and quantity exposure to chemical substances” (p. 294). Hence, the study seeks to analyze urine, blood, hair, saliva, and semen, and breast milk as samples to measure the levels of methyl mercury and chemicals present in pesticides. Moreover, analysis of seafood, vegetables, and fruits as samples of biomonitoring is essential to find out the extent of food contamination.
Analysis and Recommendations
- Since the source methyl mercury is the industrial wastes and floods, the Environmental Agency should put appropriate interventions. Regarding the industrial wastes, the Environmental Agency should compel industries to remove mercury from the industrial wastes before releasing them into the environment. Moreover, regarding floods, the Environmental Agency should control floods to prevent them from accumulating mercury in the seawater.
- Given that pesticides emanates from farms, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries should formulate strict regulations and guidelines that control the use of pesticides in the farms. In addition, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries should ban pesticides that have harmful effects on humans and other organisms.
The United Arab Emirates faces a number of environmental issues owing to the pollution effects from pesticides, methyl mercury, aerosols, carcinogens, and radiations amongst other pollutants. The study hypothesizes that pesticides and methyl mercury causes neurological disorders among the population. The literature review indicates that the dominant forms of pollutants in the United Arab Emirates are air, water, and food pollutants. To assess and measure food pollutants such as methyl mercury and pesticides, the study uses assessment techniques such as hazard identification, toxicology, and biomonitoring.
Therefore, the study recommends that the Environmental Agency should compel industries to remove methyl mercury from industrial wastes and control flooding of water. Furthermore, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries should formulate stringent regulations and policies that ban the use of harmful pesticides and control the use of other pesticides. In this view, the Environmental Agency and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries should create campaigns to sensitize industries and farmers on the dangers that they pose to the general public by releasing mercury and pesticides respectively into the environment.
Belal, A. (2009). Nutrition-related chronic diseases Epidemic in UAE: can we stand to STOP it? Sudanese Journal of Public Health, 4(2), 383-392.
Gibson, J., & Farah, Z. (2012). Environmental Risks Public Health in the United Arab Emirates: A Quantitative Assessment and Strategic Plan. Environmental Health Perspectives, 120(5), 681-686.
Grandjean, P., Satoh, H., Murata, K., & Eto, K. (2010). Adverse effects of methyl mercury: Environmental Health Research Implications. Environmental Health Perspectives, 118(81), 1137-1145.
Kaakeh, W., Maraqa, M., Hasan, M., & Al-Marzouqi, M. (2004). Management of Pesticides in the United Arab Emirates. Emirates Journal of Agriculture & Science, 16(1), 15-31.
Kapka-Skrzypczak, L., Cyranka, M., Skrzypczak, M., & Kruszewski, M. (2011). Biomonitoring and biomarkers of organophosphate pesticides exposure-state of art. Annals of Agricultural and Environmental Medicine, 18(2), 294-303.
Salaramoli, J., Salamat, N., Najafpour, S., Hassan, J., & Aliesfahani, T. (2012). Determination of total mercury and methyl mercury contents of Oily White and Light Style of Persian Gulf Tuna Cans. World Applied Sciences Journal, 16(4), 577-582.
Willis, H., Gibson, J., Geschwind, S., Olmstead, S., Hu, J., Curtright, A.,… Moore, M. (2010). Prioritizing Environmental Health Risks in the UAE. Risk Analysis, 30(12), 1842-1856.