The air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat all impact our health and well-being. Our interactions with the environment are complex and not always healthy – we come into contact with chemicals, microbes, and other physical forces like climate change on a daily basis.
The field of public health has a special commitment to creating healthier environments and to advancing environmental justice in every community. According to the EPA, environmental justice is “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” Environmental justice is realized when every citizen has the same access to appropriate environmental protections and the same access to the decision making processes that affect the environments in which they live.
Health departments across the country are committed to safeguarding the population by responding to emergencies created by climate change, educating and training various audiences, and developing new standards and guidelines for their communities.
Explore data on what effect environmental factors have on health in cities on the Big Cities Health Inventory (BCHI) Data Platform:
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Early and effective screening can make a big difference in the health of a community, especially regarding lead poisoning in children, as evidenced by new programs in the city of Portland, located in Multnomah County, Oregon. “In Portland and the vicinity, we have 80% of the lead poisoning caseload statewide,” said Perry Cabot, Senior Program Specialist, Environmental Health Services, Multnomah County Health Department. “But until recently, we could only speculate as to the number of actual confirmed cases.” Good data, coordinated systems and improved patient follow-up mean that Portland is ensuring that more children with lead poisoning are getting the treatment they need.