A recent study by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows that environmental degradation is posing a great threat to human health. The study, An Assessment of Risks and Threats to Human Health Associated with the Degradation of Ecosystems, aims at providing a rational basis for environmental policy making.

It reports that a number of factors, such as ozone layer depletion, loss of diversity, increased atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, unsafe management of pesticides and unsustainable and increasing use of resources, have negatively affected human health. A good example of this is the increase in the number of cases of respiratory problems, due to a rise in atmospheric temperature. According to the study, it is a combination of these factors that create conditions in which diseases can thrive and spread.

The study has assessed the status of scientific knowledge available on the role played by human beings in degrading the environment. It has analysed global, regional and national trends and has explicitly explained the consequences of ecological imbalances on human health.

Stressing on the need for further information and analysis of the relationship between human health and environment, the UNEP study expresses the need of an inter-disciplinary approach so that environment and public health are given equal importance in the development process.