Place matters for health equity

The air we breathe, the water we drink, and the temperature outside are all influenced by where we live, and each has a distinct impact on our health. Over the past few decades, numerous studies have shown that the environment can have a dramatic impact on health, and that those with the healthiest environments tend to be the most privileged. Conversely, those who bear the brunt of environmental health threats tend to have limited power to effect real change.

Robert D. Bullard, known as the father of environmental justice, was one of the first to systematically document the relationship between race and exposure to pollution. His research shows that U.S. policies such as redlining impose a far greater burden of polluted air and water on majority black communities than their white neighbors are exposed to. clearly indicated. Because of these same historical policies, people of color live, on average, in areas with higher surface heat than non-Hispanic whites. One consequence of these urban heat islands is that people who are already at high risk for respiratory and heart disease end up living in environments that make those diseases worse.

Around the world, the people who breathe the most toxic air are always the poorest and most disadvantaged. This pattern is evident at every level, from the smallest town to the largest country. Wealthy countries have proven that reducing air pollution can save lives, and some poorer countries have shown that clean energy can boost economic development.

Snakebite is one of the most deadly tropical diseases. Like many other conditions, it is most dangerous to those with the least resources, as they are unable to protect themselves from bites and receive the best treatment. New treatments could save lives and limbs.

The climate crisis is changing the scope and prevalence of many diseases. Valley fever is spreading to new locations, with people working outdoors, on construction sites and dusty farmland, most at risk. The disease also disproportionately affects Latinos, Asians, and Native Americans, who are more likely to be infected and often experience more severe symptoms than whites.

Solutions exist, but they require deeper understanding and new approaches. Innovative researchers are devising healthier buildings, designing clinical trials with community participation, and monitoring air and water so people can protect themselves. . They are creating a movement for a better, more just world.

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