Researchers propose increased citizen science to improve environmental and human health

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Researchers at the University of South Australia are urging the Australian government to incorporate citizen science in their health policies to improve environmental and human health as the well-being of people living in urban areas diminishes around world.

The scientists published a paper in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The lead author, Craig R. Williams, PhD, and his colleagues found, as of 2010, modifiable environmental risk factors accounted for 12.6 million deaths around the world as well as 22 percent of global disease burden. The paper’s authors argued that as the world has become increasingly urbanized, more people are having less interaction with natural environments (NEs), negatively affecting their physical and mental health. They suggested those who live in urban areas have increased exposure to pollutants, thus, increased risk of developing health issues such as autoimmune diseases, metabolic diseases, inflammation, and allergies.

The paper’s authors explained that increased exposure to NEs could reduce health risks associated with urban environments. They proposed more citizen science programs as a mechanism to improve the health of people in urban areas. According to the paper, citizen science spans several different fields of scientific study and assists in conservation efforts through activities such as flora and fauna tracking and observation. The paper suggested that incorporating citizen science into Australia’s public health policy would provide people with more physical activity, social interactions, and NE exposure, improving their overall health while also increasing environmental data.

The integrative community should take note of this paper as it describes the growing issue of urbanization and the impact of pollutants and health risks, while offering a and possible remedy for the problem.