This section focuses on the many factors that influence our health—news and ideas that you may not find in the mainstream media. Here is a sample:
- Sustainability & Public Health – Unsustainable practices harm the environment, but they also make people sick!
- Endocrine Disruptors – Many petrochemicals, including those used in agriculture, disrupt the proper functioning of the endocrine system.
- Expanding Health Care Coverage without Increasing Cost – A ‘white paper’ from The Dartmouth Institute.
- Childhood asthma – a critical problem for the Lehigh Valley
- Breastfeeding Awareness
- Health Dangers of Teflon
Also see the Focus On… section for Food, with reports on Impacts of Sustainable and Industrial Agriculture on Human Health, campus dining services, and Healthy Food for Healthy Communities.
Here we focus on rethinking the ways we live and the ways society and its systems are structured. It includes approaches, perspectives, and philosophies that can empower our pursuit of sustainability, getting more specific about the frameworks for thinking and action given in the Finding Solutions part of the Think Globally section, namely, the models of change available to help us understand the various aspects of the problem we are facing and to help us move towards sustainability.
The change paradigms are a varied lot. Some focus on specific objectives, some are holistic. Some are weighted toward “taking action” strategies, some toward conceptualization, some are rather balanced in dealing with both theory and practice. They all can find expression in local, regional, national and/or world-wide actions. They all can inspire us and help us find the way.
Please contact us about models for change that you would like to see added to this listing.
In schools, research has found that healthy fresh food improves school performance and helps reduce childhood obesity and diabetes. Many schools may teach students about the importance of eating well and then serve them food from the industrialized food system that undermines their health and the health of the community.
Also see Campus Food.
How we provide healthcare—not just the services and treatment themselves—has a huge impact on people’s health.
The dominant system in the U.S. relies on drugs and technical intervention and is largely administered by—and for the financial benefit of—insurance providers. Health care in the U.S. is the most expensive in the world, but the overall quality is rated about 40th in the world.
Holistic approaches to health care are often less expensive and less invasive or traumatic for the body—and holistic approaches are often more effective, because the strengthen and enhance the body’s natural defenses.
The term environmental health is used to frame issues where pollution and toxins in the environment cause or contribute to health problems, both chronic and acute. Environmental health concerns often have a very disproportionate impact on minorities and low-income people because of the ways facilities and roads are sited.
Some key areas of concern:
The precautionary principle is just a coherent statement of what really is just common sense: Faced with reasonable suspicion of harm, the precautionary approach urges a full evaluation of available alternatives for the purpose of preventing or minimizing harm. Instead of asking the basic risk-assessment question—”How much harm is allowable?”—the precautionary approach asks, “How little harm is possible?”
Here is the essence of the Precautionary Principle:
We believe there is compelling evidence that damage to humans and the worldwide environment is of such magnitude and seriousness that new principles for conducting human activities are necessary.
While we realize that human activities may involve hazards, people must proceed more carefully than has been the case in recent history. Corporations, government entities, organizations, communities, scientists and other individuals must adopt a precautionary approach to all human endeavors.
Therefore, it is necessary to implement the Precautionary Principle: When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.
In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof.
The process of applying the Precautionary Principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action.
You can find the original statement of the precautionary principle here: Wingspread Statement
Food for Health
Food is one essential element for life, of course. Unfortunately, much of the food from the industrialized food system actually undermines health instead of supporting it. This category identifies articles that focus on health impacts of food and food choices.
Check out these resources:
- Student research describing how the industrialized food system is destroying our health.
- Healthy Food for Healthy Communities
- Sustainable Campus Dining Resources (Most of these also apply to non-campus settings.)
If food is one of your interests, we invite you to join the Food.LV email group – this group is open to facilitate discussion of food-health concerns, access to fresh food, composting, sustainable growing, fair trade, and sustainable campus dining.
For more information, go to our Food category.
The term holistic health is used to identify practices and philosophies that support wellness and, when necessary, treat disease as part of the whole person.
A sampling of holistic health practices:
- Acupuncture & Acupressure
- Chiropractic & Network Chiropractic
- Cranio-Sacral Therapy
- Herbal Medicine
- Therapeutic Massage
Check our directory for local practitioners!
The incidence of asthma in the Lehigh Valley is far higher than the national average, especially in the inner cities. This is probably due in part to natural factors such as pollen, but the levels 0f Diesel pollution and ground-level ozone are also problematic. [Year after year, the Lehigh Valley fails to meet the minimum standards of the Clean Air Act.]
Locally, asthma is a focus of the Bethlehem Partnership for a Healthy Community and a task force on Diesel pollution that includes the Alliance, Bethlehem Partnership for a Healthy Community, Clean Water Action, Lehigh University’s Environmental Policy Design program, and RenewLV.
Obesity is a national problem, with up to 1 in 3 people diagnosed as obese. There is no single cause, but key factors include lack of physical activity and poor diet, and the prevalence of high-fructose corn syrup in food. However, even people who eat a balanced diet are unknowingly ingesting hormones and chemicals that contribute to obesity and many other health problems.
For more information, see:
Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that interfere with our endocrine system, the hormones that control development & growth and the way our bodies function on a daily basis. Exposure can lead to reproductive disorders, weakened immune systems, reduced intelligence, increased aggression, and can have devastating effects during pregnancy and on young children. Unfortunately, these chemicals are found in household products, toys, plastic food and beverage containers, herbicides & insecticides, and even in many of the foods we eat.
Related blog post – Fire or Ice? (Does it matter?)
Synthetic Turf Health Concerns
Synthetic turf may have advantages in some situations, but it also is linked to several very serious health concerns.
Because most of the high schools, colleges, and universities in the Lehigh Valley have synthetic turf fields and at least two municipalities are planning to install synthetic turf at recreation facilities, we have identified this as a local health concern. If you have questions or want more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Table of Contents Executive Summary Introduction Why a Sustainability Impact Assessment? What does Sustainability Mean? Types of Impacts Considered The Easton – Phillipsburg Area Impacts Building Design & Systems Transportation Food Educational Programming & Operations Construction Recommendations & Opportunities Building … more
Resources to complete a Sustainability Impact Assessment [In development – if you have questions now send an email to Peter Crownfield, coordinator for the sustainability impact assessment project.] DRAFT This list is provided as a starting point for others doing a … more
The recommendations take a holistic view to mitigate the challenges associated with the Da Vinci Science City and explore opportunities. Each recommendation indicates which of the five impact areas (climate, community, local economy, health, and environment). All recommendations are directed to the … more
This project examines the inter-related facets of climate, community, health, environment, and local economy. While the project focused on the proposed Da Vinci Science City project in Easton, the descriptions below provide an introduction to the various types of impacts … more
by Jacqline Wolf Tice C.E.A. Winslow, the 20th-century “founder” of the modern public health movement, famously described public health as, “the science and the art of preventing disease, prolonging life, and promoting physical health and mental health and efficiency through … more
by Adrian Shanker In considering sustainability, one must ask:“How are the most marginalized in our community supported?” The sociocultural area of sustainability perhaps receives less attention than the economic and environmental pillars, but sociocultural sustainability has great influence on the … more
[Updated March 18, 2015] The following open letter is prompted by several stories in the Express-Timesand Morning Call reporting that almost all of our high schools already have synthetic turf fields (as do most colleges and universities in the Lehigh Valley)—and the few … more
November 2017 – Synthetic Turf: Industry Claims vs. the Science. Environment & Human Health, Inc. [EHHI]. November 2017. More clear evidence of risks & problems with synthetic turf. August 2017 – Synthetic Turf update [August 2017] – includes links to … more
Additional Links & Resources listed by the NY Department of Health Temperature of In-filled Synthetic Turf Athletic Fields Adamson, C, Feature Research: Synthetic Turf Playing Fields Present Unique Dangers; University of Missouri, Columbia, College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources, http://cafnr.missouri.edu/research/turfgrass.php McNitt … more