Environmentally related diseases
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Environmentally Related Diseases. James Gresham. Plants Animals Humans. Groups. Types of Diseases. Broken into two categories: Biotic (infectious) – caused by other living organisms

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Plants animals humans





Types of diseases
Types of Diseases

Broken into two categories:

Biotic (infectious) – caused by other living organisms

Abiotic (noninfectious) – caused by factors that not other organisms; such as climate, nutrition, metals, chemicals.

Types of diseases1
Types of Diseases

Many different types:






Role of the environment
Role of the Environment

The environment can play a factor in many diseases or disease causing organisms.

Diseases caused by environmental factors could be due to natural changes in the environment that can influence diseases.

Diseases can also be caused by the presence of other organisms and their impact on the environment.

Plant diseases
Plant Diseases

Most types of diseases that are found in plants are biotic in nature or caused by other types of organisms.

The most common of these diseases are those caused different types of fungi or bacteria.

Plant diseases1
Plant Diseases

There are environmental changes that can cause an increase in certain fungi or bacteria, leading to the spread of diseases. These environmental changes can be ones that occur naturally over time or be caused by other organisms.

Plant diseases2
Plant Diseases

Most fungi like warm moist environments with varying amounts of living or dead plant or animal tissues.

Natural environmental changes ( eg. climate changes, possibly natural disasters) and induced environmental changes ( eg. Pollution caused by people, land management) can lead to an increases in already present fungi populations as well as disperse fungi to other areas which both can lead to and increase in diseases in plants by fungi.

Plant diseases3
Plant Diseases

Some common examples of diseases caused by fungi include:

Common root rot (Fusarium & Helminthosporium spp.)

Septoria Leaf Blotch (Septoria spp.)

Tan Spot (Pyrenophora trichostoma)

Plant diseases4
Plant Diseases

There are some distruptions of healthy plant functions that are abiotic, meaning they are not caused directly by living organisms but rather by nonliving sources.

An example is the effect of heavy metals on plants.

Heavy metals
Heavy metals

Heavy metal ions such as aluminum have been shown to limit the uptake of elements from the soil by plants as well as block their transport and utilization in several metabolic processes such as photosynthesis and respiration. This can also lead to a strong inhibition of root and shoot development.

However interestingly under certain circumstances some metals can actually have good consequences on plants (copper nitrate-slightly stimulated shoot development).

(K. Bojarczuk....Populus tremula L. x P. alba L.)

Animal diseases
Animal Diseases

Animals ( terrestrial, aquatic, etc) can experience many different types of illnesses and diseases due to harmful environmental factors. Some different types include:


Organ failure

Immunological disorders

Disorders due to changes in DNA (mutations)


There are many different causes of cancer in many different types of animals.

One example is the correlation of cancers in fish and the high presence of metals and hydrocarbons in the sediment



Brown bullheads in Black River, Ohio & Buffalo River, New York – high frequencies of liver and skin cancers due to high concentrations of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons and other metals

Sauger & walleye in Torch Lake, Michigan – liver cancer associated with larges amounts of fine particulates being added to the lake which were produced when copper “stamp sands” were being processed

Immune disorders
Immune disorders

There has been some research that has provided evidence of immune system disorders in some animals such as mice caused by everyday substances and chemicals

Mice exposed to common pesticides at levels four fold lower than level acceptable to people set by the EPA

Mice became more susceptible to lupus

Immune disorders1
Immune disorders

Mice absorbed low doses of tricloroethylene (TCE, found in degreasers, dry-cleaning, glues and ahesives).

Exposes to levels deemed safe by EPA and equal to what a factory worker encounters.

Quickly develop autoimmune hepatitis.


Mice were raised in cages placed downwind from two steel mills and a large highway.

Tests revealed their sperm to contain 60% more mutations such as DNA methylation of bases and strand breaks than mice that were raised in filtered air.

DNA methylation can alter gene expression as well as function


High levels of runoff from farming and ranching activities into lakes and ponds in across North America has caused increases in phosphorus and nitrogen levels which has caused an increase in abundance and reproduction of a snail species that is a vector for the microscopic parasites trematodes

These snails will release parasites into environment – infect tadpoles causing mutations such as missing or extra limbs

Human diseases
Human Diseases

Most common types of diseases due to environmental factors:


Cardiovascular & Respiratory

Infectious ( caused by fungi, bacteria, etc.)

Mutations ( Birth defects and birth abnormalities)

Neurological Damage

Cardiovascular respiratory diseases
Cardiovascular & RespiratoryDiseases

Several studies have helped provide evidence to support a causal relationship between lead exposure and hypertension ( positive association between lead exposure and blood presure).

This evidence also supports a relationship between lead exposure with more serious cardiovascular problems ( coronary heart disease, peripheral heart disease).

Cardiovascular respiratory diseases1
Cardiovascular & Respiratory Diseases

Another experiment provided more evidence for the association between increased pollutants in the air ( specifically nitrogen dioxide) and increased effects on illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


There are many different types of cancers which have many different causes.

Most carcinogens people think of are ones that are man made or are only in dangerous amounts due to people.

There are some carcinogens that can be found naturally and possibly be in large enough quantities to potentially cause problems.


Some naturally occurring carcinogens and the cancers that can be caused by them are :

Nickel = nose and lung cancers

Ultraviolet radiation = skin cancers

Alcohols = head and neck cancers

Infectious diseases
Infectious Diseases

There are many different diseases that are caused by infections of either bacteria or fungi.

Any situation in which there are large populations of these fungi or bacteria can lead to a higher chance of becoming ill from the particular fungi or bacteria.

This can happen when fungi or bacteria are able to survive, multiply and infect easily due to natural or unnatural means.

Infectious diseases1
Infectious Diseases

There are many different examples of fungi and bacteria that can cause many different types of diseases and illnesses. Some common examples are:

Yersinia pestis = Bubonic Plague

Clostridium sp = Tetanus

Trichophyton = athlete's foot ( tinea pedis)

Candida = Oral thrush

Neurological brain damage
Neurological/Brain Damage

One experiment done in 1999 had results that showed miners and steel workers that were exposed to high levels of manganese developed problems with balance, movement and fine motor coordination which are characteristics of Parkinson's Disease as well as showing that these workers were at a higher risk of developing Parkinson's Disease itself.


Another aspect of diseases that are somehow related to the environment is the possibility of having a chain reaction from one type of organism to the next due to diseases or illnesses in just one.

There are many instances where an organism that is diseased due to whatever cause can have an impact on other organisms that are connected to it on some … level


A common example of this would be having an organism ( fish) that has been infected by either a fungi or bacterial species, and then is ingested by a higher organism ( human) which in turn can cause disease or illness to that animal

Example: Liverfluke


As shown, many diseases and illness that effect organisms of all kinds can be seen to have been influenced by or originated from different environmental settings or factors caused naturally or created by other organims


Polish Journal of Environmental Studies (http://www.6csnfn.pjoes.com/pdf/13.2/115-120.pdf)

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/index.html)

Oxford Journal (http://bmb.oxfordjournals.org/content/68/1/167.long)

Great Lakes Fishery Commission (http://www.glfc.org/tumor/tumor4.htm)

Nature: International weekly journal of science (http://www.nature.com/news/2008/080113/full/news.2008.439.html

National Science Foundation (http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=110105)

National Center for Biotechnology Information / PubMed( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17431501)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/impacts/manganese/index.cfm)http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/165/4/435.full

Oxford Journal (