Environmental health encompasses the quality of air and water and the factors in one’s surrounding that affect health and disease. Chemicals that are released into the environment have effects on human and wildlife health. Therefore, understanding the consequences of artificial and ecological threats is essential in protecting lives. A respiratory illness is caused by harmful gases and particles inhaled while at home or work environments. The interaction with the environment affects the quality of life, and, thus, environmental health is concerned with preventing diseases that arise from the intractions.
Information Relevant to the Client’s Case
Risk factors that may contribute to a respiratory illness include the use of tobacco and exposure to air pollutants or allergens. In this case study, environmental exposure is crucial as it is the primary cause of the patient’s respiratory illness. From the interview, it can be noted that the disease has been present for the last seven years. In addition, seasonal changes are in no way a trigger to the patient’s respiratory illness. It can be evidenced by her coworkers suffering from the same disease, supporting the fact that the environment is the primary factor (Manisalidis et al., 2020). Another relevant piece of information is that the client works in an old building, which puts her at risk of exposure to lead, dust, or asbestos. This evidence enables the narrowing down of the case to environmental exposure at her workplace.
Assessing the Client’s Risk
Background information plays a pivotal role when accessing the client’s risk. In this case, the patient’s respiratory history will be useful. The first step will be to conduct a more critical analysis and ask more questions on the patient’s breathing problems, fever, and cough. More attention needs to be paid to respiration patterns, breathing sounds, and oxygen saturation during the assessment (Manisalidis et al., 2020). An inspection will also be crucial at this stage as it will help identify the client’s specific respiratory illness. Such examination as asymmetrical chest expansion can indicate pneumonia, while wheezing is evidence for asthma or bronchitis. Another way to assess the environmental risk is to investigate the patient’s past and present work areas to determine the extent of exposure. Her external environment also poses a threat as it could harbor toxins to the patient and her coworkers. It could be possible the building’s old age has high levels of humidity that facilitate the growth of bacteria and molds on the walls. These factors could clog proper air circulation and consecutively cause adverse infections of the respiratory tract. Taking all the mentioned factors and conditions into account, it is possible to conclude that the patient’s risk is rather high.
Exposure Pathway for the Client
As evident in the patient’s respiratory illness, the exposure pathway is inhalation, which occurred two years after she began working at her workplace. Her role as an executive assistant indicate that the client most likely spends more time at her job which contributes to her illness. Furthermore, the 100-year-old building could contain traces of lead, asbestos, and dust in air vents. Inhaling contaminated air is an exposure pathway to her respiratory illness, as it is the fastest way to affect the patient (Domingo & Rovira, 2020). The inhalation pathway is a complicated way to control because contaminated air is odorless and undetectable to the naked eye.
In summary, environmental pollution exposure is a known cause of respiratory diseases. Environmental respiratory diseases are mainly caused by the inhalation of toxins, allergens, or chemical irritants in the environment. Some of the effects are immediate, while others may be long-term, such as in the case above. A workplace environment can significantly contribute to a respiratory illness burden, depending on the level of pollution. Enviromental health, thus, plays a key role in reducing illnesses from the exposure to pollutants.
Domingo, J. L., & Rovira, J. (2020). Effects of air pollutants on the transmission and severity of respiratory viral infections. Environmental Research, 187, 109650. Web.
Manisalidis, I., Stavropoulou, E., Stavropoulos, A., & Bezirtzoglou, E. (2020). Environmental and health impacts of air pollution: A review. Frontiers in Public Health, 8(14). Web.