The environmental portion of environmental health and safety (EH&S) is critically important because it plays an important role in contributing to the health and safety of everyone. More people are now taking a much keener interest in what is happening to the environment. They are beginning to realize the impact that the environment can and does have on them. It takes a joint effort to make real changes for the better. It must involve the people, the industrial sector, the government, and be a worldwide commitment.

The People

In general, the public does not think it has much of a voice. While this may be true on an individual basis, collectively the people can have a strong impact. "It all begins at home," is an apt saying for making changes for the preservation of the world. Re-cycling has now become a part of daily household trash disposal. Another trend called freecycling has also become an efficient way to recycle goods by giving them to people that can still make use out of them. Consumers are also becoming more energy conscious and aware of their use of electricity. These are just a few of the examples where people are making a change.

Many people are opting into energy saving incentives. They are more interested in products that are going to sustain many of our resources. Some states have tax incentives in place to encourage this. Or, financing opportunities are being provided like the Commonwealth Solar Incentive Program, being offered in Massachusetts.

As parents set the example, more youth are becoming environmentally conscious. They are the future of tomorrow, and setting the seed for preservation now is critical. Citizens are banding together as groups who have specific concerns in common like the Citizens for Responsible Energy Solution, or the Citizens for a Better Environment Group.

Impact on Industry

If the consumers do not buy products that are suggested to have a negative impact on the environment, then the manufacturers make no profit. This is definitely being noted by many industries. Their marketing materials will tout their efforts as to what benefits are being served to the environment by their particular product. Labels now make it very clear what the efforts are. This has come about in part by the movement toward greater public consumer awareness and individuals making an effort to purchase more environmentally safe products.

Impact on the Government

By only voting for politicians that are making environmental issues an important part of their platform the voters can have dramatic impact. The result might not be felt immediately, but over time, voters can shift the balance to favour environmentally friendly politicians.

Impact Worldwide:

Simply having people willing to stand up for changes can have a ripple effect that is recognized in other parts of the world. Countries can then begin to make agreements that will have a positive effect on the betterment of health and safety worldwide.

The Industries

While many industries are being aggressive in their environmentally friendly marketing tactics to please the consumer, it comes with a price tag. Most often these types of products cost more. It comes down to just how much more the consumers willing to pay for an environmentally conscious product.

Many agree that fuel contaminates the air and something has to be done about it. The automobile industry responds, in part, with the solution in the electric car. While still in its initial release and has yet to gain momentum, it is a step in the right direction for the reduction of air pollution. But how much is the public willing to sacrifice financially? To change directions in most manufacturing processes it costs a great deal of money and drives the end cost way up, at least initially. For more on alternative fuel sources, check out Alternative Fuels as a Control for Motor Vehicular Air Pollutants.

Many industries voiced their opinion about the Clean Power Plan proposed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This would be a federally regulated plan used to regulate carbon dioxide emissions coming from the power plants that exist currently. It is drawing both favorable and unfavorable comments from many different industries and government levels, as well as the private sector. Those against this plan offer the argument that for the upgrades to be compliant, it would be extremely costly and drive up the costs to the consumers. Coal plants produced about 40% of the energy for the nation last year. At the same time, it created large quantities of greenhouse gases. The Clean Power Plan could force the coal plants to close, which would not only mean a loss of jobs, but could compromise the electric grid reliability.

The Government

The U.S. delegation that attended the first United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) meeting in 2014 did so with many goals. One of the most important goals was to encourage this gathering of nations to support the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) efforts on improving worldwide air quality. It is deemed that air pollution is the world’s largest environmental health risk. For more on the importance of air quality, check out How to Understand Air Pollution and be Prepared for High Risk Days. The World Health Organization (WHO) has indicated that about 7 million people died as of air pollution in 2012.

Worldwide

In 2014, over 160 countries came together for the first UNEA meeting. The mandate was to deal with serious environmental issues such as air quality, marine debris, and hazardous waste to name a few. The hopes are to come together with collective and solid productive ways to improve the environment by way of a global effort.

Price Tag on Health and Safety

The cliché that money can’t buy health does not aptly fit when it comes to many environmental changes. Everyone can do their part by being astute and making a conscious effort in not polluting the air or land, as much as possible. We as individuals and companies can become energy conscious, but it is going to take global change to have a worldwide impact. It can be seen by many of the negotiations that are taking place regarding a friendly earth living atmosphere, that in most cases it comes down to what is it going to cost in dollars? The more important question to ask is if we don’t take the right environmental steps, what is it going to cost in lives?