It is common these days to read in obituary adverts that the deceased died suddenly. Each time I read this, I wonder if it is indeed possible medically, exempting the scenes in most comedy/drama plays where persons are said to have been remotely assassinated diabolically, to die suddenly.
My common knowledge of science, nay biology, just like it applies to mechanical equipment, is that death occurs through a process of completion. What do I mean by this? In most cases, before the body shuts down, there must have been gradual disintegration of the system. This I consider or I describe mostly as dying in instalments. This implies that the body must have been suffering from one defect or the other, without appropriate and adequate attention being paid to it. When the engine finally grinds to a halt and the person dies, either through cardiac arrest or any other diagnosis, we say he died suddenly. The twin of this is dying after ‘a brief illness’.
Similar circumstances equally explain this death after brief ailment. Most inflictions that lead to death are traceable to our environment, at times, linked to our lifestyles, be it old age or an affliction. The import of the foregoing is that something must have triggered the death. The essence of this write up therefore, is to demonstrate why and how we purportedly die suddenly or after brief illnesses. This is with a view towards using this platform as awake up call on you and I, the stakeholders particularly the government to start being vigilant as the trigger of the sudden deaths and that of after brief ailments are not easily visible except we consciously watch out for them. Amongst the factors responsible for some of the deaths is environmental pollution.
Technically, environment, according to the New Webster’s English Dictionary means surrounding, especially the material and spiritual influences which affect the growth, development and existence of a living being. The import of this, to my mind, implies any are ain which the physical being exists. Where we live and survive. Pollution on the other hand involves the rendering of a pristine state unhealthy or impure. This means the contamination of the state of purity. By section 37 of the National Environment Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (Establishment) Act,2007, the law regulating our environment nationally, “Environment includes water, air, land and all plants and human beings and/or animals living there in and the interrelationship which exists among these or any of them”.
According to Black’s Law Dictionary, it is the corruption or defilement of the environment. My take from the above description of pollution is that there is always a trigger of the disruption as well as the dent of the state of an area. In other words, it takes some actions by certain entities, including human beings, to bring about destabilization of the purity of an environment.
Somebody, somewhere must have done or failed to do something, resulting in the disfigurement of our surrounding. Health, from Black’s Law Dictionary perspective, is a state of being sound or whole in body, mind and soul. Freedom from pain or sickness. Similarly, The New Webster’s English Dictionary’s perspective of health is the state of fitness of the body or of the mind. This goes beyond the physical being of a person to his spiritual balance, in my view. It is important, however, to note that the spirituality in this context goes beyond religion. The summation of the foregoing is that pollution does not just occur naturally except there is a trigger, most times, by human element. This is mostly due to the urbanization and industrialization of the space. Thus, destabilization occurs through our conscious and unconscious activities as human beings, which unfortunately negatively affect us. The picture is, therefore, that of self-infliction. In other words, we tamper with the environment to our detriment.
The above conceptual clarification is necessary for us to understand the subject we are about discussing, with a view to enabling us to digest the message that is being sent. While it is true that pollution affects all of us as a people, the impact is felt more among the vulnerable as the high income people have capacity to deploy both mitigating and adaptation measures to protect themselves. In other words, it is the middle class and the poor that form the majority of the populace that are usually victims of the environmental pollution. According to the Lancel Commission on Pollution + Health, an October 2017research, nearly 92% of pollution-related deaths occur in low and middle-income countries. From the editorial of the Journal of Environmental and Public Health,“ some of the most harmful effects of pollution are perinatal disorders, infant mortality, respiratory disorders, allergy, malignancies, cardiovascular disorders, increase in stress oxidative, endothelial dysfunction, mental disorders, and various other harmful effects ……increased risk of morbidity and mortality from many diseases, organ disturbances, cancers, and other chronic diseases.”
These are just few of the effects of environmental pollution on our health. Studies have equally confirmed that environmental pollution equally engenders neurosis, mental illness, stomach ulcers, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory disorders as alluded to above. The regrettable thing about the environmental pollution on our health is that because it is not easily visible and identifiable, we tend not to pay appropriate attention to it.
But for the ‘KOKO’ dumping years back (1988), we as a nation probably would not have felt the need to regulate our environment legally. Even at that, the glorious days of the environmental protection of our nation appear to be on the decline. It is therefore gratifying recently when the otorhinolaryngological society of Nigeria (ORLSON) (I’m sure that they could have chosen an easier name, simply as assembly of ear, nose and throat medical practitioners, but they are just being truly Nigerians.), at the 27thAnnual Scientific Conference, decided to escalate the issue back to the front burner on the adoption of the impact of environmental pollution on our health. I commend them for this and hope they will continue to interrogate the issue further.
Environmental Pollution can be of water, soil and air. In terms of air pollution, the WHO recognizes ambient (outdoor) air quality as a major environmental risk to health. Worldwide, an estimated 3.7 million premature deaths (under age 60) were found to be attributable to ambient air pollution in2012. Household (indoor) air pollution was found to pose environmental health risk for an estimated 3 billion people worldwide, especially those in low and middle-income countries where biomass fuels and coal are commonly burned for cooking and heating.
Worldwide, an estimated 4.3 million deaths in 2012 were attributable to household air pollution. At the local level, apart from the noxious fumes from different sources, the use of firewood and kerosene in most of the outskirts, villages and hinterlands is still largely prevalent. The use of two-stroke engines motorbikes, amongst others, is still the order of the day in most cities. coupled with the generating sets that dot the nooks and crannies of our homes, fumes from the industrial machines roaring in most of the industries, most of which are non-compliant with the emission standards and old and rickety cars that constitute majority of the cars plying our roads. It is not necessary to start detailing the effects of carbon monoxide on our health.