The influence of geology in the development of public health

Bergman, B. P. (2013) The influence of geology in the development of public health. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 375(1), pp. 279-287. (doi: 10.1144/SP375.6)

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Public health, the protection of the health of populations through community engagement, is a modern specialty originating in post-Industrial Revolution Britain, while environmental geochemistry is of even more recent origin. The influence of geology on health was first recognized in Classical times, although it was later supplanted by the miasma theory of disease. During the Renaissance, medical teaching began to concentrate more on diagnosis and treatment of the sick individual and less on preserving the health of populations. The concept of geology as a determinant of health re-emerged with the growth of scientific knowledge during the Enlightenment period of the eighteenth century. The nineteenth century saw the first identification of trace element deficiency disease and the publication of a textbook of public health which described geological influences on health. Over the next 100 years both public health and environmental geochemistry became established on a firm footing, although as separate disciplines. Recently the public health focus has been on lifestyle choices, but environmental geochemistry remains a potentially powerful partner in the fight to protect health, and there is much scope to enhance collaborative working. The legacy of the pioneers of both public health and geology must not be forgotten.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bergman, Dr Beverly
Authors: Bergman, B. P.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:Geological Society, London, Special Publications
Publisher:Geological Society
ISSN (Online):2041-4927

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