About this theme area:
In the IRL Community Environment and Health theme, we use "environment" in the traditional, biophysical sense. That is, this theme is focused on the physical, chemical, and biotic factors (e.g., soil and other living things) that impact human health and health equity. Included are issues relating to land use; noise pollution; solid, liquid, and hazardous materials management; underground storage tank control; septic and sewer systems; vector control; drinking water quality; water sanitation, and similar factors. This theme is not focused on the impacts of social, cultural, or built environments, per se, though such things may be related to biophysical environments. The term "community environment" is used to make clear that our research leaders are interested in equity and change at the local level, such as a town, city, or even a state.
There is a long history of research on the relationship between biophysical environments and health. While early scientific work may be traced to John Snow and cholera epidemics (see Johnson, 2006, The Ghost Map), a modern regulatory highlight was President Clinton's Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations, which focused federal attention on environmental equity. More recent concerns focus on drinking water safety in Flint, Mich., and risks associated with oil pipelines in the Midwest.
This theme aims to generate research to support change and equity in local biophysical environments that affect human health. Setting this work apart from much of the existing literature is community engagement, which is the foundation stone of the IRL program. While documenting problems is important, the IRL program is primarily interested in developing and testing evidence-based solutions.
IRL Teams working on projects in this theme:
- A holistic environmental health approach to promoting health, equity, and water security in one Alaskan Native Village
- "Get the Lead Out!:" Promoting Community Resilience in the Face of Environmental Injustice
- Participatory Assessment of Health Equity Impacts through the Implementation of the Community Air Monitoring and Management
- Groundwater Contamination and Health Equity in a Deindustrialized Midwestern Community
- Joppa Environmental Equity Project: Examining the impact of air pollution on community health and redressing environmental racism
- Investigating Community Social Action to Identify, Remediate, Evaluate, and Sustain an Environmental Justice Initiative
- REMOVE: A community-based intervention to advance environment justice and health