Introduction Air Air pollution is caused by a range of human



Air pollution is caused by a range of human activities, such as motor vehicle exhaust, industrial smoke, and the burning of coal and oil. It is responsible for many environmental health issues, such as aggravated asthma, and lung and heart disease. The Clean Air Act, originally introduced in 1963, and the Motor Vehicle Pollution Act of 1965 are designed to protect us from air pollution and have had to be updated many times since their inception. Although, regulations and enforcement take place on both local and national levels, most air pollution issues have global implications. As air pollution is carried by the wind, many of the effects of industrial pollution, such as acid rain are felt far away from the source.


Water quality is of even greater concern to human health. Without water, humans would survive only three or four days. Although seventy percent of the earth’s surface is covered with water, only one percent of that can be consumed by humans. Our water supply is jeopardized by rapid population growth, increases in municipal water consumption, global warming and drought, and increases in irrigation and pollution. Several federal statutes have been enacted to help protect our water supply. In 1972, the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act prohibited the dumping of material into the ocean that would unreasonably degrade or endanger human health or the marine environment. In 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act was enacted to ensure the quality of drinking water in the United States. In 1990, the Oil Pollution Act began requiring oil companies to clean up oil spills.

All of these laws have helped clean up and protect our water, but we must remember that water is not an unlimited resource. The treatment plants clean and recycle water and the hydrologic cycle recycles water for reuse, but we are not creating new water. We must care for what we have. According to the EPA, “The average American family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day. On average, approximately 70 percent of that water is used indoors, with the bathroom being the largest consumer (a toilet alone can use 27 percent!)” (2014). Considering ways to cut down on water use becomes more important as the demand increases.


Besides clean air and water, population and economic growth depend on the productivity of the land. Land quality differs from place to place; while soil should be a renewable resource, it can be degraded beyond reusability. Population growth and land degradation are related. Changes in farming practices have improved soil quality immensely in the U.S. because regulations have helped to make sure toxic substances are not dumped into the soil. It is essential to maintain soil quality both for food quality and to limit the potential for contaminated soil to pollute our water supply.

Waste Management

The disposal of waste is a looming problem in the country. Landfills are slowly filling up, chemicals from the breakdown of wastes have entered the soil and the water, and few steps have been taken to change the throw-away mentality of our society. According to the Duke Center for Sustainability and Commerce (2014), the average person generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day. Further, waste disposal is one of the biggest expenses in city budgets. Improper disposal causes problems with vermin and insects and pollutes surface as well as groundwater. Individuals are often unaware of the special programs for disposing of hazardous materials, so these too end up in landfills. The management of waste is a public health problem that must be addressed seriously and soon.

Polylactic Acid (PLA)

Plastics make up almost 13 percent of our municipal solid waste, with most of it coming from containers and packaging (such as drink containers, lids, and shampoo bottles) (U.S EPA, 2014). Plastic waste in our landfills and oceans has become a major issue in environmental and human health. 

Most of you have probably seen the new corn-based plastic, which is being used in more and more products such as take-out containers, water bottles, and cardboard boxes. This new plastic is made from a resin called polylactic acid (PLA). According to Ryote (2006), conventional plastic packaging requires about 200,000 barrels of oil a day in the United States. PLA is touted as the way to break away from petroleum packaging and save us from the mounting piles of plastic taking over landfills.

On the downside, PLA decomposition requires large-scale recycling. Specific microbes, specific levels of carbon dioxide and water, and specific temperature are needed. These facilities are very rare and most do not accept residential food scraps collected by municipalities. PLA causes problems for conventional plastic recyclers if it is mixed in, so they must now pay to remove it. There are also concerns that using corn in such a manner will continue to drive up food prices.

Bisphenol A (BPA)

BPA is a chemical used in the production of certain plastics. The chemical is known to leach out of plastic into foods and liquids. Critics believe BPA acts as an estrogen mimic and disrupts brain development in utero and in newborns. BPA supporters say the risks are minimal and that research has not supported the need for a ban. Canada has banned BPA in baby bottles and even tougher restrictions have been proposed by the U.S. Senate.


Duke Center for Sustainability and Commerce. (2014). How much do we waste daily? Retrieved from

Royte, E. (2006). Corn plastic to the rescue. Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved from

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (2014). Indoor water use in the United States. Retrieved from

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (2014). Plastics. Retrieved from

Demonstration of Proficiency

By successfully completing this assessment, you will demonstrate your proficiency in the following course competencies and assessment criteria:

  • Competency 2: Analyze the impact of contaminants in the environment to human health.
    • Examine the impact of personal choice on environmental health.
  • Competency 3: Apply personal and professional decisions based upon an understanding of environmental risks.
    • Illustrate ways to reduce personal impact on the environment.
    • Explain how to encourage others to make a change in the ways they impact the environment.
  • Competency 4: Communicate effectively in a variety of formats.
    • Write coherently to support a central idea in appropriate format with correct grammar, usage, and mechanics.


Please review the resources and assessment instructions. No extra preparation is required for this assessment.


For this assessment, in a 3–4-page report, examine the impact of your choices on the environment and consider positive changes you could implement.

Begin your report by explaining areas of your life in which your choices impact the environment. This list could be endless; choose to focus on 10 areas of impact. Then, choose five changes related to the areas you listed that you could implement in your life.

  • Include at least one change relevant to each of the three main natural resources—air, water, and land (soil).
  • For each of your five changes that you have chosen to examine, address the following:
    • What is the financial cost or benefit of the change?
    • What health benefits are associated with the change?
    • What are the environmental benefits of this change? How does this change promote conservation of air, water, or land?
    • What is the impact on your lifestyle if you make the change?

Finally, address the following in regard to your chosen changes overall:

  • What message are you trying to convey? Highlight the main points you want to present.
  • How do your personal choices affect environmental health?
  • Include a reference to the information from at least two reputable sources that support your choices. What do other sources of information say about these concepts?
  • Finally, explain how you could convince your friends and family that these changes are important.

Additional Requirements

Use the APA Paper Template (linked in Resources: Pollution) to format your report.

  • Written Communication: Written communication should be free of errors that detract from the overall message.
  • Length: This report should be 3–4 pages in content length. Include a separate title page and a separate references page.
  • Font and Font Size: Times New Roman, 12-point, double-spaced. Use Microsoft Word.
  • APA Formatting: Resources and in-text citations should be formatted according to the current APA style and formatting.
  • Number of Resources: You are required to cite a minimum of two scholarly resources. You may conduct independent research for resources and references to support your report. Provide a reference list and in-text citations for all your resources, using APA format. You may cite texts and authors from the Resources.

Expert Solution Preview


Human activities have a significant impact on the environment, and it is crucial to identify ways in which personal choices affect environmental health. Air, water, land, and waste management are main areas that need attention. This report highlights ten areas of impact and proposes five changes that could be made to promote environmental sustainability.

Impact of Personal Choices on the Environment

Areas of Impact

1. Transportation: The choice of mode of transportation affects the environment. Cars contribute to air pollution, while public transportation options such as buses and trains are more environmentally friendly.

2. Energy usage: The type of energy used at home or work has an impact on the environment. Renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power should be preferred over non-renewable options such as coal and oil.

3. Water usage: The amount of water used by an individual or household affects the availability of clean water. Conserving water through measures such as fixing leaky faucets and using low-flow showerheads can help to reduce water wastage.

4. Plastic usage: Plastic usage contributes significantly to pollution. By reducing the use of single-use plastic products such as straws, beverage bottles, and shopping bags, we can reduce the amount of plastic waste.

5. Food choices: Eating a plant-based diet has significant environmental benefits. Animal agriculture requires large amounts of resources such as land and water, and it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

6. Clothing choices: Synthetic fabrics, particularly polyester, shed microplastic fibers during washing, which contributes to water pollution. Choosing natural fabrics such as cotton and linen can help to reduce this impact.

7. Travel choices: Traveling by air has a high impact on the environment. Opting for alternatives such as train travel or carpooling can help to reduce carbon emissions.

8. Paper usage: Conserving paper by opting for digital communication and reducing printing can help to reduce deforestation, which has significant land degradation effects.

9. Household waste management: Proper waste management practices such as recycling and composting can help to reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfills and contributes to pollution.

10. Cleaning product choices: Many commercial cleaning products contain harmful chemicals that can pollute water sources. Opting for eco-friendly cleaning products can help to reduce water pollution.

Proposed Changes

1. Installation of solar panels: Switching to solar energy for electricity can help to reduce energy dependence on non-renewable sources. Although the initial investment may be high, the financial benefits over time are worth it.

2. Use of refillable water bottles: Rather than using single-use plastic water bottles, switching to refillable bottles can help to reduce plastic waste. There is a financial benefit to this change in that it is cheaper to refill rather than purchase new water bottles.

3. Vegetable gardening: Starting a vegetable garden at home can help to reduce dependence on store-bought produce, which may have been transported long distances. Growing food at home also has health benefits and can help to reduce the carbon footprint associated with food production.

4. Use of natural cleaning products: Switching to eco-friendly cleaning products can help to improve water quality and reduce the risk of exposure to harmful chemicals. There is a financial cost to this change, as eco-friendly products may be more expensive than conventional ones.

5. Composting: Composting at home can help to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste that ends up in landfills. This change has environmental benefits as it reduces greenhouse gas emissions from landfills. There is no financial cost to this change.

Financial, Health, and Environmental Benefits of the Changes

1. Installation of solar panels: Financial benefits of this change include a decrease in the monthly energy bills. Health benefits include reduced exposure to harmful chemicals from non-renewable energy sources. Environmental benefits include lower carbon emissions due to the use of renewable energy.

2. Use of refillable water bottles: The financial benefit of this change is that it reduces spending on single-use water bottles. Health benefits include better hydration, and environmental benefits include less plastic waste and reduced pollution.

3. Vegetable gardening: This change has financial benefits in that it can reduce grocery bills. Health benefits include consumption of fresh and organic vegetables. Environmental benefits include less carbon footprint due to reduced transportation of produce.

4. Use of natural cleaning products: There are health benefits associated with the use of eco-friendly products as they reduce exposure to harmful chemicals. Environmental benefits include reduced water pollution from chemical products; however, there is a financial cost associated with this change.

5. Composting: Composting has environmental benefits in that it reduces the amount of biodegradable waste in landfills, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It also has health benefits due to the reduced exposure to landfill toxins. There is no financial cost to composting.

Impact on Lifestyle

1. Installation of solar panels: There is no significant impact on lifestyle associated with this change.

2. Use of refillable water bottles: This change has a minimal impact on lifestyle and is convenient.

3. Vegetable gardening: Vegetable gardening requires time, effort, and space, and could impact the availability of spare time.

4. Use of natural cleaning products: There is no significant impact to the lifestyle associated with the use of eco-friendly cleaning products.

5. Composting: Composting requires time, effort, and space to implement but has a minimal impact on lifestyle.

Message Conveyed by the Proposed Changes

The proposed changes aim to convey the importance of individual action towards promoting environmental sustainability. Personal choices can have a significant impact on the environment, and we should strive to make choices that promote conservation of natural resources. The changes proposed have financial, health, and environmental benefits, and are feasible and actionable. By implementing small changes, we can promote a healthy environment for ourselves, the planet, and future generations.


Duke Center for Sustainability and Commerce. (2014). How much do we waste daily? Retrieved from

Royte, E. (2006). Corn plastic to the rescue. Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved from

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (2014). Indoor water use in the United States. Retrieved from

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (2014). Plastics. Retrieved from

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