NUR 4145 Community and Population Focused Health
Clinical Assignment #2: Environmental Health
This assignment will develop a beginning understanding of environmental health concepts in the community setting. Students will consider how HealthyPeople 2020 environmental health themes impact their community, and apply concepts such as “social justice” and “the greater good” in evaluating public health initiatives.
1. Describe the impact of various environmental public health hazards.
2. Investigate strategies that address solutions to environmental public health hazards.
3. Explore policy and legislation related to environmental health issues in the community.
Students should familiarize themselves with HealthyPeople 2020’s Environmental Health objectives, which focus on 6 themes: 1) outdoor air quality; 2) surface and ground water quality; 3) toxic substances and hazardous wastes; 4) homes and communities; 5) infrastructure and surveillance; and 6) global environmental health.
Students can access https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/environmental-health for more information.
Instructions for Individual Activity
Each student will choose one of the HealthyPeople 2020’s Environmental Health themes to investigate and explore how their community (chosen with Clinical Assignment #1: Community Assessment/Windshield Survey) is affected and impacted by this theme, as well as what is being done to address this environmental health theme to safeguard or improve societal and environmental health. Students should search relevant public/governmental agency websites and media/newspaper publications to help understand the situation from historical, present, and future oriented perspectives. The EPA’s My Environment website may also be helpful (https://www3.epa.gov/enviro/myenviro/). Students will then create a 2-page paper (approximately 500 words) that addresses the following:
· Briefly describe the selected environmental health theme.
· Discuss how the community is affected/impacted by this environmental health theme.
· Explore the selected environmental health situation from historical, present, and future-oriented perspectives.
· Discuss any strategies that are planned or have been implemented to address this environmental health theme to safeguard or improve societal and environmental health. Consider the barriers and facilitators for success of these strategies. Propose strategies if none are found.
· Within the paper, students should consider and address population health concepts such as “social justice” and “the greater good.”
· Student should utilize and appropriately cite relevant public/governmental agency websites and media/newspaper publications to substantiate their writing.
· Students will submit their APA formatted paper to Brightspace by the assigned due date.
Theme: Outdoor Air Quality
Description of the Environmental Health Theme
The environmental theme I choose from the Pilsen windshield survey outdoor air quality. It was resolved that the Pilsen community has had the problem of good quality outdoor air for over ten years. A smelting facility in the neighborhood has been associated with the degrading condition of air safety in the area. The goal of Healthy People 2020 is to create a healthy environment to promote people’s health (HealthyPeople.gov., 2021). Outdoor air quality is the first objective of Healthy People 2020 that focuses on reducing air pollution to reduce the increasing premature deaths associated with poor air quality such as cancer and cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses (HealthyPeople.gov., 2021).
Impact of Outdoor Air Pollution on Pilsen Community
According to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA), air emissions increase the lead concentration in the air. Lead is associated with various health effects when it accumulates in the body. After ingestion, lead enters into the bloodstream and gets distributed to other body parts and increases the risk of brain damage, and may impair prenatal development (Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO), 2021). It can cause lead poisoning when people ingest contaminated substances such as water, soil, and dust. The Illinois Department of Public Health encourages children to be assessed to determine their exposure to lead, particularly those aged between 6 months and 6 years (Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA), 2021). Illinois EPA identified that lead exposure was a community concern due to the proximity of the sources of emissions to schools and residents (Illinois EPA, 2021).
The Historical, Present, and Future Perspectives on Air Pollution in Pilsen
The issue of air pollution in the Pilsen community has been a target for EPA for over 10 years. Community inquiries raised in 2005 about the air emissions from a smelting company known as H. Kramer and Co. attracted the attention of EPA. EPA found that the facility had violated air pollution regulations. In 2013, the Illinois State and EPA started parametric monitoring to monitor lead emissions and ensure the emissions did not exceed the set limits and also prevent leakage. Reports indicate that there has been a reduction in lead concentrations in the air, particularly due to the measures that have been put in place to control emissions. Although significant efforts have been taken to control air pollution in Pilsen, unfiltered emissions still remain a major concern. It appears that the regulatory agencies have struggled to control air pollution from big industries such as H. Kramer and the Fisk and Crawford coal-fired plant. The U.S. EPA stated that there were excessive emissions from the facilities (Guzzardl, 2011). However, the facilities were only asked to set up plans to reduce emissions to comply with the air quality standards. The future perspectives include continued monitoring of emissions and the efforts to keep emissions below the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
Strategies to Improve Air Quality
Several strategies have been used to improve air quality in Pilsen, including the Perez Elementary School lead monitoring site that was initiated to monitor lead monitoring at H. Kramer (U.S. EPA, 2021). In 2018, the U.S. EPA cleaned up lead-contaminated soils from a residential building site in East Pilsen and at the Heart of Chicago Area Soils site and filled the area with clean soil. Also, a smokestack was demolished in April 2020 at Crawford Power plant, but the samples taken by the U.S. EPA from the site indicated that the level of contamination was below national air quality standards. EPA has set up fence line monitors to monitor air quality at Crawford Power Plant (U.S. EPA, 2021).
Guzzardl, W. (2011, August 16). Chicago Pollution: Pilsen students protest coal plants and smelter after grim air quality report. HuffPost. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/chicago-pollution-pilsen-_n_878241
HealthyPeople.gov. (2021, October 14). Environmental health. https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/environmental-health
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA). (2021). Fact sheet 1: Pilsen neighbourhood lead. https://www2.illinois.gov/epa/topics/community-relations/sites/pilsen-neighborhood-lead/Pages/fact-sheet-1.aspx
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (2021, June 8). EPA in Illinois: Environmental Issues in Chicago’s Little Village & Pilsen Neighbourhoods. https://www.epa.gov/il/environmental-issues-chicagos-little-village-pilsen-neighborhoods
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