A Position Statement from the International Council of Nurses: The Nurse's Role in Safeguarding the Human Environment*

The preservation and improvement of the human environment has become increasingly important for man's survival and well-being. The vastness and urgency of the task place on every individual and every professional group the responsibility to participate in the efforts to safeguard man's environment, to conserve the world's resources, to study how their use affects man, and how adverse effects can be avoided.

THE NURSE'S ROLE IS TO:

Help detect ill effects of the environment on the health of man, and vice-versa. The nurse should:

  • apply observational skills for the detection of ill effects of environment on the individual;

  • observe individuals in all settings for effects of pollutants in order to advise on protective and/or curative measures;

  • record and analyze observations made of ill effects on environment and/or pollutants on individuals;

*  

From International Council of Nurses, The Nurse's Role in Safeguarding the Human Environment. Position Statement. 1986. Geneva, Switzerland. Used with permission of the International Council of Nurses.



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Nursing Health, & Environment: Strengthening the Relationship to Improve the Public's Health A Position Statement from the International Council of Nurses: The Nurse's Role in Safeguarding the Human Environment* The preservation and improvement of the human environment has become increasingly important for man's survival and well-being. The vastness and urgency of the task place on every individual and every professional group the responsibility to participate in the efforts to safeguard man's environment, to conserve the world's resources, to study how their use affects man, and how adverse effects can be avoided. THE NURSE'S ROLE IS TO: Help detect ill effects of the environment on the health of man, and vice-versa. The nurse should: apply observational skills for the detection of ill effects of environment on the individual; observe individuals in all settings for effects of pollutants in order to advise on protective and/or curative measures; record and analyze observations made of ill effects on environment and/or pollutants on individuals; *   From International Council of Nurses, The Nurse's Role in Safeguarding the Human Environment. Position Statement. 1986. Geneva, Switzerland. Used with permission of the International Council of Nurses.

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Nursing Health, & Environment: Strengthening the Relationship to Improve the Public's Health be informed and report observations of the ecological consequences of pollutants and their adverse effects on the human being. Be informed and apply knowledge in daily work with individuals, families, and/or community groups as to the data available on potential health hazards and ways to prevent and/or reduce them. The nurse should be informed about: the studies and identification of the environmental problems at local, national, and international level; their effects on man; the standards for the protection of the human organism, especially from pollutants; ways to prevent and/or reduce health hazards. Be informed and teach preventive measures about health hazards due to environmental factors as well as about conservation of environmental resources to the individual, families, and/or community groups. The nurse can: request and attend continuing education programs about the study of the environment and the application of this knowledge in daily life and work; provide health education for both the general public and health personnel in order to create awareness of environmental issues and to involve the public with environmental management and control; apply knowledge in areas where nursing intervention may prevent or reduce health hazards; report on steps taken to control the significant environmental problems of the area. Work with health authorities in pointing out health care aspects and health hazards in existing human settlements and in the planning of new settlements. Nurses can: participate in exchange of information and experience about similar environmental problems with authorities in other areas; cooperate with health authorities in the preparation of programs to enable national and local authorities to influence their own environments; participate in the promotion of legislation to improve health care and reduce/prevent health hazards, and encourage the enforcement of such legislation where/when appropriate;

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Nursing Health, & Environment: Strengthening the Relationship to Improve the Public's Health participate in national/local pre-disaster planning; and cooperate in international programs in case of disasters in other countries. Assist communities in their action on environmental health problems. The nurse can assist communities in programs to: reduce harmful pollutants (chemical, biological or physical, e.g., noise) in air, soil, water, and food by industries or other human efforts; improve nutrition; encourage family planning; assess environmental factors in work situations and pursue activities for the elimination or reduction of hazards; educate the general public and all levels of nursing personnel in environmental and other health hazards, especially those related to unacceptable levels of contamination. Participate in research providing data for early warning and prevention of deleterious effects of the various environmental agents to which man is increasingly exposed; and research conducive to discovering ways and means of improving living and working conditions. The nurse, as principal investigator or in collaboration with other nurses or related professions, can carry out epidemiological and experimental research designed to provide data for: early warning for prevention of health hazards; improving living and working conditions; monitoring the environmental levels of pollutants; measuring the impact of nursing intervention on environmental hazards.