Environmental Injustice: Children’s Health Disparities and the Role of the Environment

…is the title of an article released today in “Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing” as part of this month’s global publishing theme on poverty and human development.

Months ago, the Council of Science Editors announced a “Global Theme Issue on Poverty and Human Development.” According to the CSE, “Science journals throughout the world will simultaneously publish papers on this topic of worldwide interest… to raise awareness, stimulate interest, and stimulate research into poverty and human development. This is an international collaboration with journals from developed and developing countries.”

Over 200 journals are participating, including Explore. The Integrative Pediatrics Council is a regular contributor to the journal, and I was intrigued by the theme. How could there not be something on children’s health in an issue dedicated to human development? So I approached the person I thought most able to deliver a “call-to-arms” regarding the tremendous challenges we’re facing today – Deirdre Imus – to work with me on the project. The writing partnership resulted in an article I am hopeful will raise awareness about key health concerns linked to this concept of environmental injustice. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defines environmental justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies.” As we note in the article, injustice is done when there exist health disparities based on these same factors. We detail the pertinent issues in children’s health and development today as they relate to environmental factors. The take-home message, I suppose, is that children as a group are victims of environmental injustice, though poor children (yes, even in the U.S.) are certainly worse off.

Also, of note, Environmental Health Perspectives printed a related column in October’s issue, “Standing on Principle: The Global Push for Environmental Justice.”

The entire Explore issue this month is available for free download. Please take some time to look at the articles and help us draw attention to this important theme.

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