environmental health

Photo contributed by Sharon Stewart.

Floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters can devastate a town in just a few hours. But the impact on residents can linger for years in the form of anxiety, depression or other mental health problems. 

How Redlining, Racism Harm Black Americans' Health

Jun 24, 2020
Carter Barrett, Side Effects Public Media

Systemic racism has a huge impact on the health of Black Americans, and not just in the doctor’s office. In a Facebook Live event, Side Effects Public Media reporter Darian Benson spoke with three experts on topics ranging from generational mistrust to the impact of COVID-19. 

The impact of climate change is vast: rising sea levels, climbing temperatures and more severe storms. These problems stretch beyond the coasts and grasslands, and cities along the Great Lakes are not immune. 

Climate change brings serious health impacts, too.

Photo by ERICA HEISDORF BISQUERRA

Climate change is expected to bring an increase in heat waves, flooding and severe storms to the Great Lakes region. And it's likely to disproportionately impact people already grappling with many other obstacles, particularly in urban areas.

Paige Pfleger / WOSU

“I water my horses out of this creek down here,” Jeff Ivers says, resting his hand on his horse’s nose.

He looks out over his land: 43 acres, surrounded on three sides by Perry State Forest, with a small creek running through it.

In Louisville, Kentucky, traditionally known as a hotbed of air pollution and an uncomfortable place to live for a person with asthma, a community-run study is using big data to figure out how to make its residents healthier.

Breathing Fire: Health Is A Casualty Of Climate-Fueled Blazes

Nov 9, 2017
Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News

SANTA ROSA, Calif. — As the deadliest fires in California history swept through leafy neighborhoods here, Kathleen Sarmento fled her home in the dark, drove to an evacuation center and began setting up a medical triage unit. 

California Cracks Down On Weed Killer As Lawsuits Abound

Nov 8, 2017
Mike Mozart via Flickr

Jack McCall was a fixture at the local farmers market, where he sold avocados and other fruits he grew on his 20-acre ranch in Cambria, on California’s Central Coast.

cf9b8430-d6ca-497f-92e3-2dfa4c8323a7
courtesy Andy Whelton

That white plume also became a focus of the research. Whelton and his team visited several sites and placed air quality monitors in and around the chemical clouds to capture samples of emissions that the professor now definitively says are “not steam.”

Fixtures, Pipe Materials Could Affect Drinking Water Safety

Jan 20, 2017

A Purdue University professor is investigating drinking water safety with a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Andrew Whelton, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Ecological Engineering, says drinking water safety, despite what many people might think, is not well understood.

“A lot of the declarations about drinking water safety are not actually based on science,” Whelton says. “They’re based on hope.”

Karen Shakerdge

 

It was a busy summer for environmental safety workers at the school district in Rochester, New York, where employees sampled over 2,000 school water fixtures and replaced nearly 20 percent of them, after finding problematic levels of lead.

 

Ben Stephenson/Wikimedia Commons

Pollution from power plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania caused up to 4,400 premature deaths across the country in 2015, according to a new study. 


Study: Persistent asthma in childhood has long-term effects

May 20, 2016

Children who live with persistent asthma in childhood are at a higher risk of developing lung problems later in life, according to new findings from a national asthma study that began in the 1990s. A small number of patients even exhibited symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, in early adulthood.

Air Pollution Costs U.S. $130 Billion A Year – And That’s An Improvement

Mar 1, 2016
A nighttime view of the Keystone Generating Facility, a coal-fired power plant in southwestern Pennsylvania.
Zach Frailey / Uprooted Photographer

For years, scientists have known that pollution from burning fossil fuels is bad for us. But just how bad? And can we place a dollar amount on the hidden costs of burning coal and other fossil fuels for electricity?


Jean-Pierre via Flickr

For decades, chemical company Dupont hid evidence of the serious health effects of PFOA (a key ingredient of Teflon until recently), while continuing to pollute a rural area with chemical waste. As the New York Times Magazine reports, one lawyer's epic 15-year-legal battle finally made Dupont accountable. And the industry has phased out PFOA, which can cause birth defects and cancerous tumors in lab animals.

Jake Harper/Side Effects

Retired farmer Dick Himsel’s Danville, Indiana property looks like an idyllic Midwestern small farm. Trees line the driveway, leading up to an old-fashioned wooden farmhouse that’s surrounded by tall stalks of corn.

One thing the property does not have, though, is fresh air.


A new rule from the Obama Administration aims to further reduce the main ingredient in smog. That might sound like good news if you live in a city where smog is a problem. But after the rule was announced, there were plenty of complaints about it.

EPA Announces New Rules To Protect Farmworkers From Pesticides

Sep 29, 2015

The Environmental Protection Agency has released a final version of updated rules intended to keep farmworkers from being poisoned by pesticides. The previous "worker protection standard" for farms has been in effect since 1992.

Wildfire Smoke Becomes The Health Threat That Won't Go Away

Aug 25, 2015

I stepped out my parents' front door last Thursday, expecting a typically glorious summer day in southern Oregon. Instead, I was hit with acrid wood smoke that stung my eyes and throat. The air was thick with haze that obscured the mountains. I quickly retreated inside.

Health departments across the West are mobilizing to protect residents from smoke generated by dozens of fires that have sent smoke as far east as the Midwest.

In Texas, A Coal Mine Opens To Power Mexico

Aug 25, 2015
Ingrid Lobet

The coal industry is struggling as cheaper and cleaner natural gas undercuts coal, and environmental regulations push utilities to shut down their older coal-burning plants.

Yet new coal mines open and others expand. In one Texas county on the Mexican border, local officials and residents seem nearly united in their opposition to a new coal strip mine, the Eagle Pass Mine. The company that owns it, Dos Republicas Coal Partnership, says it intends to ship out the first load of coal by train next month.

When Flint, Michigan stopped buying water from Detroit and starting treating the nearby Flint River for its drinking water, quality plummeted. As this piece in The Atlantic explains other cash-strapped cities around the country may risk similar problems as they struggle to upkeep infrastructure. “Flint is an extreme case, but nationally, there’s been a lack of investment in water infrastructure,” Eric Scorsone, an economist at Michigan State University told the Atlantic. “This is a common problem nationally.”

Ryan Delaney/WFYI

Where the Monon Trail hits 126th Street in Carmel, Ind., it’s crowded with bikers and joggers. There’s a shopping center with a yoga studio and some restaurants, and two different theaters are in view.

A few hundred yards away, a jazz band plays right off the trail. There are hundreds of people out for the show, and some of them dance. Further down, there’s a community center, complete with a skate park.


A new study that uses blood samples collected more than 50 years ago finds that women who were exposed to the pesticide DDT in the womb have a four-fold increase in breast cancer risk today.

Nana B Agyei via flickr/ https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

 A plastic bottle can contain from two to two hundred different chemicals, additives like softeners, hardeners and dyes. But certain chemicals found in plastics—and present in other substances such as flame retardants, pesticides, and cosmetics— have come under scrutiny for their ability to act like hormones in the human body and affect human health. A growing body of research links exposure to these chemicals to a host of health problems including obesity, diabetes, learning disorders, infertility, birth defects, and cardiovascular disease.

BPA-free isn't good enough anymore if you're trying to sell plastic sippy cups, water bottles and food containers.

The new standard may be "EA-free," which means free of not only BPA, short for bisphenol A, but also free of other chemicals that mimic the hormone estrogen.

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