Environmental Health


How does the environment affect health?

 Watch the NEJM video “Air Pollution and Mortality” (1) - (2min)

What is environmental inequality?

 Watch Khan Academy video “Environmental Justice” (2) - (4min)

What communities are the most affected by pollution?

 Watch the Huffington Post video “Air Pollution: A Dangerous Reality for Low-Income Minorities” (3) - (9min)

How do “Sacrifice Zones” form?

 Watch activist Peggy Shepard’s TedTalk “Environmental Justice” (4) - (8min)

What is environmental racism?

 Watch The Atlantic video “Environmental Racism is the New Jim Crow” (5) - (1min)

Is climate change a public health issue?

Listen to Harvard Chan This Week in Health podcast series “Climate Change and Health Part 1” (6) - (14min)

If you’re interested, Part 2 focuses on how to discuss climate change with skeptics (21min), Part 3 focuses on how climate change influences nutrition (14min), and Part 4 focuses on climate change impacts on global mental health (10min).

How could climate change worsen health inequality?

Check out NYT article “As Climate Changes, Southern States Will Suffer More than Others” (7)

Map of predicted damage, 2080-2099 by Percent of County GDP per year

Map of predicted damage, 2080-2099 by Percent of County GDP per year


How is this relevant to Harlem Hospital and The Allen Hospital?

Central Harlem and Washington Heights are disproportionately affected by issues of environmental health. 74% of Central Harlem residents and 75% of Washington Heights residents live in homes with maintenance defects, including water leaks, cracks, inadequate heating, rodent infestation, toilet breakdown, and peeling paint (8). This is compared to 57% of residents in Manhattan overall. Central Harlem and Washington Heights also have a high rate of air pollution with 9.6 and 9.5 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5 respectively, one of the most harmful air pollutants, compared to 8.6 micrograms in New York City overall (8). 

This has led to disparities in chronic pulmonary diseases. Central Harlem has almost twice the citywide rate of child asthma hospitalizations at 69 per 10,000 children, and avoidable adult asthma hospitalizations at 436 per 100,000 adults (8). Washington Heights has a lower rate of child asthma hospitalizations at 28 per 10,000 children, compared to 33 per 10,000 for Manhattan (8). However, Washington Heights has an increased rate of avoidable adult asthma hospitalizations at 218 per 100,000, compared to 196 per 100,000 for Manhattan overall (8).


How is this relevant to Stamford Hospital?

Fairfield County has the highest average number of high ozone days in the state at 24 per year, compared to the next highest of New Haven at 12.3 per year (9). Nonetheless, Stamford has a lower mortality rate from chronic lower respiratory disease than Connecticut overall at 19.9 per 100,000 compared to 32.2 per 100,000 (10). The city also has lower mortality rates from lung, breast, prostate, colon, ovarian, leukemia, liver, and bladder cancer than the state overall (10). However, when broken down by income, these benefits appear to dissipate. The citywide rate of asthma is 9%, but for those with an income less than $30,000, the rate of asthma climbs to the statewide rate of 13% (10). This may be related to different neighborhood exposures, as low-income households are concentrated in South Stamford (10).


If I am interested in this topic, where can I learn more?

Listen to Reveal podcast episode “Do Not Drink: The Water Crisis in Flint, Michigan” (11) - (56min) 

This episode explores the history of the Flint water crisis and the ways in which socioeconomic status influenced the community’s experience.

Watch National Geographic and Leonardo Dicaprio’s documentary “Before the Flood” (12) - (96min)

This documentary outlines the effects of climate change and possible solutions for the future.



1.       Air Pollution and Mortality — NEJM. Retrieved July 15, 2017, from http://www.nejm.org/do/10.1056/NEJMdo005174/full/?utm_source=The%2BScope&utm_campaign=8a321ff2a8-Weekly_Scope_June_30_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_809ad7d22b-8a321ff2a8-134755525

2.       Environmental justice | Social Inequality | MCAT | Khan Academy. (2015, March 27). Retrieved July 11, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0L2xCwD5RNI

3.       Craven, J. (2018, January 23). Even Breathing Is A Risk In One Of Orlando's Poorest Neighborhoods. Retrieved January 23, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/florida-poor-black-neighborhood-air-pollution_us_5a663a67e4b0e5630072746e

4.       Environmental Justice: Peggy Shepard at TEDxHarlem (2012, July 30). Retrieved July 11, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zJX_MXaXbJA

5.       Daniel Lombroso and Vann R. Newkirk II. (n.d.). Environmental Racism Is the New Jim Crow. Retrieved July 11, 2017, from https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/529137/environmental-racism-is-the-new-jim-crow/?utm_source=atltw

6.       Climate change and health. (2017, April 24). Retrieved July 11, 2017, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/podcast-series-climate-change-health/

7.       Plumer, B., & Popovich, N. (2017, June 29). As Climate Changes, Southern States Will Suffer More Than Others. Retrieved July 11, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/06/29/climate/southern-states-worse-climate-effects.html

8.       New York City Community Health Profiles. Retrieved February 21, 2017, from https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/data/data-publications/profiles.page#mn

9.       “How healthy is the air you breathe?” American Lung Association, www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/sota/city-rankings/states/connecticut/#hide-tabs-1.

10.    2016 Stamford Hospital Community Health Needs Assessment. Retrieved January 07, 2018, from http://www.ct.gov/dph/lib/dph/ohca/community_needs_assessment/chna/2016/2016_stamford_hospital.pdf

11.    Do not drink: The water crisis in Flint, Michigan. (2016, April 12). Retrieved July 11, 2017, from https://www.revealnews.org/episodes/do-not-drink-the-water-crisis-in-flint-michigan/

12.    Before the Flood - Full Movie | National Geographic : National Geographic : Free Download & Streaming. Retrieved July 11, 2017, from https://archive.org/details/youtube-90CkXVF-Q8M