Health and Pollution : Glossary

There are 75 documents in this section.

  • Particulates

    22 August 2000

    Very small solid exhaust particles emitted during the combustion of fossil and biomass fuels. Regarding respiratory diseases, particulates composed of acids, metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are of greatest concern.

  • Pathogen

    22 August 2000

    Agent causing disease.

  • Pesticides

    22 August 2000

    Chemical products designed to kill or restrict the development of pests. They include fungicides, herbicides and insecticides. Pesticides range from relatively simple elements such as sulphur (S) to complex chemical compounds such as chlorinated hydrocarbons and may be broad-spectrum or narrow-spectrum agents. Pesticides also vary in their persistence in the environment, and in general, the longer they remain chemically stable the greater is their potential for environmental damage. The use of pesticides has undoubtedly benefited society, by preventing disease and improving the food supply. At the same time, ignorance of the environmental impact of pesticides, the indiscriminate use of certain products and inadequate control of the production and use of pesticides has created problems for wildlife and natural vegetation and has threatened human health.

  • Petrochemicals

    22 August 2000

    Chemicals derived from oil and natural gas - for example, ethylene, propylene, toluene - which act as feedstocks for the manufacture of products such as plastics, pesticides, fertilisers, antiseptics and pharmaceuticals. Petrochemicals play a very important role in modern society, but they also create pollution problems. Plastics are a major component of solid waste, for example, fertilisers contribute to eutrophication of lakes and rivers and pesticide residues in food and water present health problems.

  • Population health

    22 August 2000

    A measure of health status of populations, proposed in recent years to selectively replace use of the terms human health, which is more restrictive, and public health, which also encompasses preventive and curative measures and infrastructures.

  • Resurging infectious disease

    22 August 2000

    Disease that had been decreasing in population but which is now rapidly increasing in incidence again. Examples include: diptheria, malaria and cholera. In some cases, resurgence is due to decreases in active control programmes or surveillance activities.

  • Synthetic Chemcial

    22 August 2000

    Pertaining to or involving chemical synthesis; (of an organic compound, a gem, etc.) produced by artificial synthesis, esp. in imitation of a natural substance; (of a fibre) manufactured from a chemically synthesized polymer.

  • Toxin

    22 August 2000

    Poison of animal or vegetable origin. Or poison formed in the body by pathogenic organism.

  • Ultraviolet radiation

    22 August 2000

    High energy, short-wave radiation lying between visible light and X-rays in the electromagnetic spectrum. It is usually divided into ultraviolet-A (UV-A) with wavelengths of 320-400 nanometres (nm), ultraviolet-B (UV-B) with wavelengths of 280-320nm and ultraviolet-C (UV-C) with wavelengths of 200-280nm. Ultraviolet rays are an important component of solar radiation. At normal levels it is an important germicide and is essential for the synthesis of Vitamin D in humans. At elevated levels, it causes sunburn and skin cancer, and can produce changes in the genetic make-up of organisms. It also has a role in the formation of photochemical smog. Most of the UV radiation which reaches the earth from the sun is absorbed by the ozone layer in the stratosphere. Thinning of the ozone layer, however, has increased the proportion of ultraviolet radiation - particularly UV-B - reaching the earth's surface, giving rise to fears of an increasing incidence of skin cancer and other radiation-related problems.

  • Urbanisation

    22 August 2000

    Conversion of land from a natural state or managed natural state (such as agriculture) to an urban state.