Soil, geography and human disease: a critical review of the importance of medical cartography

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Abstract

Soils have a profound impact on the causation and geographical distribution of human disease and well-being. However, because of the multifactorial causes of illnesses, the impact of soils on health needs to be considered in light of the environment in its fullest sense. Since the nineteenth century, medical cartography has served as an epidemiological tool for investigating the links between soils and human well-being. Using examples, particularly the problems of soil-transmitted helminth infections, and iodine and selenium deficiency diseases, this paper shows how maps have been used to identify problem areas, stimulate the development of aetiological hypotheses, help in the planning and management of public health problems, and assess the impact of any beneficial strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-512
Number of pages23
JournalProgress in Physical Geography
Volume30
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Keywords

  • human disease
  • iodine deficiency disorders
  • medical cartography
  • selenium deficiency
  • soil geography
  • soil-transmitted helminths

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