Chatper 6 : Human-Made Environments

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Human-Made Environments, Page 1 of 2

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At least 3% of the world’s land surface is built up. Human impact on the environment includes roads, agglomerations, and dams; pollution of soil, water, and air with household, traffic, farm, and industrial emissions; and degradation of land, forest, streams, and oceans by farming, logging, and fisheries. In general, high-income populations seem to overrate the importance of daily objects as vehicles, but to underrate kitchen and food hygiene and municipal services of tap water, sewerage, and garbage disposal. Soil salinization can be a consequence of irrigation. Like tap water, fecally polluted dam and irrigation waters can be vehicles of enteric agents. More narrowly defined, “adequate” sanitation requires well-maintained toilets within walking distance that safely dispose of waste. Nonenveloped viruses, bacterial and fungal spores, cysts of protozoa, and worm eggs survive in animal and human biowaste. Economy and crises force people into cities. Commuting workers and arriving international travelers can carry respiratory agents to and from cities. Urban leptospirosis is an emerging infection. In Baltimore, Md., inner city residents have been reported to have contracted leptospirosis from exposure to rat urine. Contact with daily objects rarely results in infection. Exceptions include kitchen utensils, diaper-changing areas, and shared personal objects. Squeezed diapers may be a noninvasive source of urine for laboratory tests, including from babies and disabled elderly patients.

Citation: Stürchler D. 2006. Human-Made Environments, p 125-142. In Exposure. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817510.ch6
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