The argument that economic inequality is bad to our health has absolute truth based on the reality in our society today. Individuals’ status in society determines the kind of lifestyle one leads, a factor that dictates the health conditions of a person. However, financial status determines an individual’s consumption pattern, living conditions, as well as the body exercise one takes and how he takes it.
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The economic advantaged individuals can access the health requirements to keep in a good state through balancing their food, leisure and work, although their consumption patterns do sometimes hinder proper health maintenance. Contrary, the economically disadvantaged persons are more exposed to factors that negatively affect our health due to money factor determinacy. They are sometimes unable to attend to their basic needs, including their daily consumption and healthy living standards (Bashir 76).
In a society characterized by economic inequality, people’s lifestyles including norms and values are set by those who rank highly in the economic bracket. However, these norms do not favor the whole community, but only seem to favor those making them. The society’s way of life dictates how to achieve necessary commodities, thus making well-off individuals’ consumption patterns different from the poor people.
Moreover, means of acquiring healthy resources are intensified to suit the social class of the rich making it difficult for the lower class to attain them. The poor find it difficult to meet the living standards accepted in the society, which are often set by the rich, and they opt to move in poor houses with unhygienic conditions, which lack of proper sanitation exposing them to disease outbreaks.
In addition, education becomes a distinguishing factor between the two groups where the poor are less educated, hindering them from realizing a better way of handling health issues in their lives. On the other hand, due to social class differentiation, the rich ignore healthier foods as they associate them with lower classes, thus resulting to imbalance in their diet. This brings about unhealthy conditions such as obesity and other related diseases.
Apart from fulfillment of human basic needs, the level of inequality in income greatly undermines the public health status. The material acquisition is associated with the opportunity access where those with more achieve much in life; a factor that creates strive for those within low economic positions in achieving the social norm and as a result they resort in working more hours.
Their choice to work longer hours however deprives them the opportunity for leisure, denies them time for social relationship-important for maintaining both psychological and physical health, creates stress from the job leading to poor health as well as providing less time for exercise, eating out and minimizes the ability of maintaining good health.
The inequality also brings reduction in social capital due to competition in societies which results to decline in productivity. More advantaged society benefits from political support for social programmes while others suffer from lack of these programmes (Beck 115).
In order to eradicate these health-related problems, the issue of economic inequality needs to be addressed. Equal distribution of resources by the government should be encouraged, which involves making education and health services affordable to all. Charitable giving and volunteerism towards the lower classes also needs to be practiced in order to uplift the less privileged social status hence bridging the economic gap.
On the other hand, social organizations should intervene to improve people’s wage/hour law and workers safety, together with setting of a standard norm that does not benefit one class any more than the other should be involved to bring down the inequality (Bryant & Mohai 137).
Toxic wastes released in the environment pose an health hazard to both the people living near the production plants and those working in these plants. These impacts on people’s health are directly and indirectly encountered as people interact with the environment they live in.
Through inhaling the released toxic gases in the atmosphere, people’s health becomes affected by the harmful chemicals in these gases. More adversely, the release of the gas contributes to the global warming, a condition that has not only affected human being’s health, but also all living organisms. Similarly, the release of chemicals to the soil has also resulted to growth of foodstuff with harmful elements which affect people’s health.
The level of toxic gases in the environment has been attributed to the high rate of chemical use than that from disposal sites, disposal of chemicals is being perceived more costly than dumping while production being given a high priority than awareness of health impact. This has resulted to massive dumping of the chemical residual without people realizing the danger it poses to their health. As a result this has contributed to undiscovered toxin exposure, which has affected the general public health.
One of the communities that have been affected by these toxic wastes is the African American community. Bryant & Mohai (137) notes that “Between 1920 and 1978, more the 80 percent Houston’s household garbage landfills were located in black neighborhood.” About 60,000 tons of soil with highly polychlorinated biphenyl was damped on Black County illegally.
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This brought many complains of illnesses by the black people who were living in this area due to pollution of water and crops. While the production plant continued to benefit from the cost reduction of chemical disposal, the black people were suffering from the harm resulting from these chemicals.
This led to protests against environmental injustices, which resulted to arrest of 500 protestors. However, the demonstrations continued until the state and federal government intervened and stopped the dumping of toxic chemical by industries. In addition the State and federal government incurred the cost of this pollution by spending $ 17.1 million to detoxify the contaminated soil stored at the landfill.
However, detoxifying the soil was not satisfactory as the process involved application of another chemical to neutralize the other. This failed to guarantee people good health as the chemicals used caused more harm to humans, animals and plants.
There were no measures of preventing more dumping of the toxic residues by the involved industries. In addition, there was no guarantee that the poisoned soil could be 100 percent detoxified. To protect public health, adequate disposal of toxins byproducts of industrial process need to be enhanced. Thus the law and regulation concerning disposal needs to be emphasized to ensure that toxin products do not find their way into people’s life.
In addition, toxins have affected people’s life in their daily activities and undertakings. Farm operations such as use of pesticides on food, use of bottled water as well as carpeting have also contributed to toxic release to the environment affecting people’s health. This issue calls for measures of ensuring toxin solutions have been employed. For example, the community organizing environmental justice should ensure that rules concerning disposal are adhered to.
Also, there is need for community monitoring on the industrial activities including their disposal processes. Community health survey also needs to ensure that any threat towards community health is dealt with. In addition, political actions are needed to discourage release of harmful gasses and chemical to the environment and create proper planning process of release of harmless gas in the atmosphere (Beck 85).
Before a food product is place on a table before a family, it has passed a number of systems along which the person taking the meal might not be aware of the risk involved in these steps. From the very first step of the production of these foodstuff, the health of the individuals involve is always at risk.
This is sometime experienced directly and indirectly, with the persons involved either being conscious or unconscious of these risks. As a result, the measures to avoid or suppress these risks are either unattainable by the involved person or unidentifiable where these risks are experienced.
If a food product in an American kitchen such as tomato paste has its systems considered, it will require one to trace the products origin which is in the soil. This entails the farm production of tomatoes which goes along the process stage to tomato paste. In tomato production, land factor is a major thing that posses threat to both the community’s and individual health.
Land ownership dictates who produces tomatoes for the market. Those with large lands dominate the market and in some cases oppress the farmer with small piece of land. This may happen when the big farmers lower the price of tomatoes since they have the produce in large quantity.
However, the small farmers with only little production have to sell at that price regardless of whether they make profit or not. This creates pressure and stress which affect the farmer’s health. In addition, the people working in the farm are exposed to harsh conditions that may pose threat on their health. In most cases these workers are work for long hour, denying them time to rest end exercise as well as being with their families. This physical pressure negatively affects their health (Bryant & Mohai 51).
On the other hand, application of chemicals such as fertilizers and herbicides on the farm causes poisoning to the land, the air and water. This has negative result towards the health of both the workers and the community at large as they use the water and inhale the chemical in the air.
The market condition exposes people to hazardous conditions. Working under vagaries of weather such as under hot sun or heavy rain risks people’s health. In addition, both the buyers and seller get to the market very early and leave very late which denies them time for other recreation activities. As the fruit goes to the factory for processing, there is an association of risk related condition towards the employee’s health. Working with machines and chemical bring about danger of harm to the employees both physically and mentally.
For example, machines have been reported injuring and even killing people in industries, their noise interfering with mental performance of the employees and chemicals having their way in employee’s body systems resulting to temporary or permanent damage. In addition, working long hour and at night to meet individual needs have negatively impacts towards individual’s health.
On the market of tomato paste, economic inequality causes people to give up their time for health improvement activities such as leisure, eating, and exercise to work in order to meet the social class requirement that will enable them to be in a position of acquiring the product. As a result, their health is put at risk so that they can be able to lay this tomato product on their kitchen table.
Using Genetically Modified seeds to produce tomatoes can be one way of ensuring workers’ health and their community. GMO seeds have high capability of resisting pests and diseases, thus a reduction of the application of chemicals to the land that poisons the surrounding. Secondly, enforcement of workers’ rights to ensure healthy conditions for both the farm workers and factory workers.
Government and Humanitarian bodies have to ensure that the needs of the workers are at the forefront. In addition, clear schedule of work time as well as the rights of the workers should be ascertained to avoid any form of exploitation. This will provide them with extra time they need to recuperate and maintain their health. Thirdly, market bodies or governments need to research on the market conditions at different time and come up with a standard price of the products in the market.
This will deny the big farmers and the economic advantaged people from defining the social status in association with the product prices. This will reduce the strains imposed to lower classes as they struggle to ensure that they get what it takes to fit in the set social norms by the ‘haves’. This will enable them to moderate their working time, social and recreational time (Bashir 72).
Bashir, Shinny. Home is where the harm is: inadequate housing as a public health crisis. Phetchaburi: Am J Public Health, 2002. Print.
Beck, Anderson. Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity. New York: Sage, 1986. Print.
Bryant, James & Mohai, Peterson. Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1992. Print.