Article: article from journal or magazin.
Review (review): journal as complete as possible of one specific subject, written based on exhaustive analyses from published work.
The importance of environmental exposures to physical, mental and social well-being
International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity" states the WHO. However, the current focus in this important area seems to be on reducing diseases, while less attention is paid on aspects how to increase the well-being of populations. This paper reviews three examples where well-being has drawn attention of the public and policy makers, and compares the policies of two wealthy countries. The first example is noise. Noise can reduce sleep quality and cause physiological, mental, and social effects. In Switzerland, noise receives a lot of attention by the public. Swiss laws are extensive, e.g., they prohibit trucks and planes from traveling at night. In the USA, there is little public attention and no national strategy against environmental noise. The second example is aesthetics and recreation. Many humans seek contact with the beauty of nature. The USA and Switzerland have similar strategies for achieving clear waters, while the protection of scenic views is approached very differently. Lifestyle is the last example. In the USA, the desire for individual freedom is a leading cause for suburban sprawl, a car-dependent sedentary lifestyle resulting in obesity, asthma and loss of community spirit. In Switzerland, a strict land use planning seeks to balance individual and public interests and stresses public transportation, which seems to be a more promising approach. Paying attention to aspects of well-being while developing political strategies might be a promising model to tackle environmental problems. Successful strategies employed so far seem to include the public, local authorities, politicians and scientists in this process, which might have been a key for their success. [Authors]
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