Safer environments to reduce personal harm

Our environment influences our health.  This includes exposure to physical, chemical and biological risks, as well as people's behaviour. Tasmanians' health is built onSafer environments highlight image

  • having clean water and air,
  • safe food and housing,
  • protection from pollutants and
  • working to prevent hazard exposure and disease control.

Environmental health covers assessing and controlling the factors that influence health.  Working to prevent disease and creating health-supporting environments.

How big is the problem?

Our environment can contribute to all the major health disorders such as heart and lung disease, injury, stroke and depression.

Environmental health risks can also lead to injuries. Injury is the greatest cause of death in the first half of life, and the seventh leading cause of death overall in Tasmania.

The emergence of COVID-19 and the extreme bushfire season of 2019-20 has highlighted the importance of being prepared for future events that may impact our health.

What are the barriers to safer environments?

Creating safer environments to reduce personal harm can improve health outcomes for the whole community. However, environmental hazards are not experienced evenly.

Socio-economic disadvantage, poor housing and living in rural and regional areas are also associated with increased risk of injury.

Climate change may affect our health and wellbeing through the impacts of extreme weather events, worsening air quality, viruses transmitted by insects, threats to water and food quality and effects on our mental health.

What can we do?

Many of the most effective injury prevention strategies use environment and enforcement strategies.  You can see these in everyday life: for example, car seatbelts, pedestrian crossings, safety harnesses.

Public health has had success from clean water testing and addressing the effects of domestic wood smoke. Health promotion has made an impact with falls prevention programs for older people, and sun protection campaigns.

Making laws to protect our health, such as food safety laws, controlling wood smoke, and tobacco control legislation, is an essential strategy to manage environmental health risk. Local governments also play a vital role in reducing environmental health risks in Tasmanian communities.

There are things we can all do now to build our resilience to the effects of climate change as well as help slow its pace. For example, promoting local seasonal fruit and vegetables and active living environments, including access to green spaces, will not only be good for our health and wellbeing they will be good for the environment.

Further links and guidance

National Injury Prevention Strategy 2020-2030

Tasmanian Climate Change and Health Roundtable report

Environmental Protection Agency