Indicators of environmental health are signs or clues about the condition of the environment in a particular area. The impact of the environment on human health and ecosystems can be measured through these indicators. Some examples of these indicators include:
- Air Quality: Levels of air particles such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide. Other indicators of air pollution include the presence of toxic chemicals and unusual odors.
- Water Quality: Chemical levels in water, such as heavy metals, pesticides, detergents, and other chemicals. Water quality can also be assessed by turbidity, color, and odor.
- Soil Quality: This includes toxic chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides, and other contaminants present in the soil.
- Environmental Sustainability: This indicator examines how natural resources can be cultivated for future generations, including deforestation rates, land degradation, and biodiversity conservation.
- Wildlife: The status of wildlife populations and habitats, including the presence of endangered or protected species, can be an indicator of environmental health.
- Environmental Diseases: Looking at the number of cases of diseases related to the surrounding environment, such as respiratory infections caused by pollution from water and/or soil contamination.
- Food Quality: From pesticide levels or other chemicals in food to food safety.
- Water Availability: The availability of clean water for human and environmental needs.
- Climate Change: Indications of rainfall levels, extreme weather, and average temperature changes that can affect human health and ecosystems.
- Waste Management: The efficiency of waste management and occupational safety and health (K3) in its activities.
In efforts to protect human health and maintain the environment, monitoring and understanding indicators of environmental health is crucial. By knowing these indicators, preventive and corrective actions can be taken to reduce risks and negative impacts on the environment and health.
Indicators of Environmental Health in Mining Areas
Especially in mining areas, environmental health is crucial for the sustainability of mining activities, such as monitoring the impact of mining activities on the environment and human health. Mining areas have several environmental health indicators, including:
- Air Quality: Excavation processes and the use of heavy machinery can cause air pollution in mining areas if done excessively. Therefore, the levels of toxic gases such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and hazardous fine particles need to be monitored.
- Water Quality: Water can be contaminated by mining waste due to the use of chemicals and mineral dissolution processes. Water quality indicators include heavy metal content such as lead, mercury, and cadmium mixed into the water.
- Soil Quality: Soil quality indicators include heavy metal content, soil pH, and soil fertility levels resulting from mining activities.
- Public Health: Human health indicators include respiratory diseases, skin diseases, and other health problems related to exposure to air, water, or soil pollution caused by mining activities.
- Waste Management: To avoid environmental pollution, waste management in mining areas needs attention. Waste management indicators include disposal methods and their impact on the environment and health, with SPARING being one method to measure waste management.
- Food Quality: The quality and safety of food can also be affected by mining activities that pollute the soil, plants, and livestock.
- Permits and Compliance: With increasingly strict regulations, a company’s compliance with these regulations can be an indicator of how much mining activities consider health and environmental sustainability.
Preventive and corrective measures in mining activities can be taken not only to reduce negative impacts on the environment and human health but also to ensure that mining operates sustainably and responsibly.
Risks of Unhealthy Environment
Conversely, if a mining area is unhealthy, various risks and negative impacts can occur on the environment, local communities, and mine workers. Some risks that may arise include:
- Air Pollution: Air pollution caused by dust from mining activities and the use of heavy machinery. Toxic gases such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and carbon monoxide pose a high risk to human health and can cause respiratory disorders. Additionally, air pollution due to excessive greenhouse gas emissions can worsen global climate change.
- Water Pollution: Reliable water sources for nearby communities can be contaminated by water pollution from heavy metals and other chemicals due to mining waste and mineral dissolution processes. Besides being harmful to humans, water contamination can risk damaging ecosystems.
- Soil Pollution: Contaminated soil can hinder plant growth as the soil becomes infertile. Moreover, it can be toxic to humans and animals exposed to it. Mining activities that do not consider environmental health can result in soil degradation.
- Habitat Loss and Biodiversity: One risk of air and/or soil pollution is that local flora and fauna can lose their natural habitat, leading to a decline in population and biodiversity.
- Public Health Risks: One of the significant risks of unsustainable and irresponsible mining activities is an increased risk to public health in surrounding areas. Respiratory diseases, skin diseases, and other health problems may emerge.
- Accidents and Safety: When mining companies disregard or neglect applicable permits and regulations, accidents such as collapses, fires, and landslides can potentially occur, endangering workers.
Both for mining operators and communities, it is essential to always maintain the environmental health of mining areas. Efforts such as mitigation, monitoring, and effective environmental reclamation are mandatory to support a healthy and sustainable environment and to reduce risks while safeguarding human health.
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