Unnatural Causes: Place Matters

In this episode of Unnatural Causes, we discussed how external environment matters when it comes to a person’s health. The video discussed how place matters because it determines what physical or chemical agents your exposed too, the social environment, violence and crime, if it is easier to walk or find healthy foods, neighbors you have and how you interact with them, etc. Environment is a critical determinant of health as health is embedded in the quality of place we live. This video specifically looked at if and how it is possible to make an unhealthy neighborhood healthy. Richmond, CA was specifically looked at due to that many environmental factors that make is unhealthy. In Richmond, the risk of dying with diabetes is twice as high as average, the rates of children with asthma and dying of cancer or heart disease is much higher, fast food is easily available, and over 50% of people pay more than 30% of their housing income. An example of how Richmond could turn healthy was High Point, Seattle where the community won federal grants to essentially start from scratch. High Point now has a new clinic, new public library, rebuilt all low-income housing where some are designed to “breathe easy” for those with asthma, built community gardens that provide cheap vegetables, and many more things were done to make the unhealthy town healthy.

One piece of information I thought was interesting in this documentary that was discussed was how not all differences in environments are just natural. Differences like the police in a neighborhood and how they intervene in daily life and their relationship with the population also affects people’s health and stress levels. This is not something that I have thought about before, as I usually think of air quality and access to food when i think of environmental health factors. The video also made me think about extreme cases of environments affecting the health of like Chernobyl and how great an environment can affect humans.

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