Preventive medicine and public health advances continue to contribute to the well-being of persons, and central to modern changes are environmental issues that significantly shape the world. While great strides have been made over the past few decades, there are still areas of pressing concern and long-term danger.
While still not entirely clear in all respects, global climate change seems more and more real, with significant consequences if not modified. Recent policies in the United States have raised concerns about environmental degradation in such areas as water purity, clean air, the health of forests, and planning for future growth in population. It is becoming increasingly appreciated that sufficient clean water may not be as readily available in the future as in the past, with significant public impact. Superfund site cleanups have slowed dramatically. Endangered species seem more endangered.
On a global basis there have been pockets of progress. Individually the steps may seem limited, but over time they add up to significant protection of human health. Increasingly, countries are banning the use of asbestos, public transport—like the bus system in the capital of India—run on cleaner fuels, and cigarette smoking in public settings is decreasing through legislation. Far too much petroleum is still consumed, with a decreasing availability in sight and with insufficient reductions in use or development of alternative sources.
Occupational health problems continue to contribute to mankind's difficulties. Little has been done to reduce child labor around the world with increasing hazards for kids, given the nature of much of their work. The use of children in the sex trade or as soldiers is to be particularly condemned. Too many children work rather than go to school.
Some developed countries ban the use of certain dangerous chemicals, but not their production and export for use in societies where safety and health standards leave many at constant risk. The basic economics of work, with transnational movement of many jobs, contributes to the increasing gap between rich and poor, and to future lower standards of living in many places, without offsetting gains in less-developed countries.
As public health professionals, we must continue to fight for the well-being of all, and environmental issues can contribute to our collective betterment. This section of this famous book continues to address both traditional and cutting-edge issues. It has grown, as public health has changed, from a small part of early editions into a significant part of the overall text. The topics covered essentially put a whole environmental and occupational text into the hands of readers, embedded in all the other wonderful material to be found in this venerable volume.
Over time there has been an increase in the number of journals devoted to occupational and environmental health issues. Given the often contentious and litiginous nature of issues in this field, it has become ever more important that ...