The interactions between humans and the ocean are significant, and necessitate more comprehensive study on an international scale. The world's oceans provide great health benefits to humans ranging from food and nutritional resources, to recreational opportunities and new treatments for human disease. However, recently, human health effects from exposure to substances present in the marine ecosystem such as synthetic organic chemicals (e.g., chlorobiphenyls, chlorinated dioxins and some industrial solvents), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), metals (both introduced and anthropogenic), marine toxins, and pathogens have been recorded and are of great concern. This paper reviews our state of knowledge of the interactions between oceans and human health and proposes indicators and a research strategy to investigate and monitor these relationships more closely. Four approaches to gathering information on indicators included here are: biomarkers; cellular pathology; physiological and behavioural responses; and changes in populations. All hold the potential to enhance our understanding of marine environmental quality and far-reaching effects on human health. Monitoring systems that include the rapid assessment of contaminants in the ecosystem and subsequent risk to human populations, with appropriate internationally distributed data bases, need to be developed and validated. Such tools would provide early detection of potential environmental threats, and enhance the ability to prevent human illness.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health