From the air we breathe, to the water we drink, environmental health is a determinant of health that plays a pivotal role in our lives on a daily basis. A safe, clean environment is a right everyone is entitled to and is conducive to promoting health in our communities. Unfortunately, there are instances in which people are robbed of this right and are living in environments that exacerbate health pathologies associated with a poor environment. We see this across the country in the form of air pollution where industrialized cities with major factories and fossil fuel combustion pollute our air with chemical toxins. Such areas are susceptible to unhealthy increases in temperature, acid rain, and smog which can lead to increased asthma prevalence along with cancer.
What is going on now, however, in Flint, Michigan, however, is being classified as the worst public health disaster in the United State's history. Flint residents are drinking lead contaminated water that has upwards of 19 times the normal lead average. 10 people have died from Legionnaire's disease and children are suffering from mental diseases and demented brain development. For a family of four, they are relying on over 150 bottles of water a day for drinking, cooking, bathing, and washing clothes. This is inhumane and is deteriorating the health of Flint residents. Fortunately, as in other times when the environment is not conducive to health, governmental agencies are stepping in to correct the issue.
Environmental health also encompasses the built environment of a community. The structures and facilities available for a community is also important in increasing health and promoting safe health practices. Inclusion of sidewalks, parks, recreational facilities, homes, schools, and businesses all comprise the network necessary to build a strong physical and social environment. A positive built environment is what promotes a connected and cohesive community which alienates health pathologies such as housing disrepair, dependence on motor vehicles, and sedentary lifestyles.