Environmental Justice

Dr. Candice Shivers

Wind mills on mountain range with overcast sky

Clear water, blue skies, fresh air are all things that we believe are equal, but in reality it is not. The environmental factors that we live in, every day, are major determinants to our health. Depending on where we live, go to school, work, etc. is based upon our socioeconomic status and determines the type of environment that surrounds us.

Certain communities may be exposed to poorer environments and inequities than those of a wealthier socioeconomic status. Some examples of environmental justice issues are air and water pollution, homes that may be infected by lead or mold, poor public transportation and lack of access to healthy foods.

Every April, the American Public Health Association (APHA) takes the time to celebrate public health with an entire week. APHA highlights different themes that affect our communities at large. 2020’s themes are mental health, maternal and child health, violence prevention, education, healthy housing, economics, and environmental health. We must continue to have conversations that affect and determine our life expectancy.

Environmental Justice

Environmental justice is defined as “the fair 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” (USEPA, 2020). Focus has been given to areas, such as: agriculture and forestry, built infrastructure, climate change, communities, energy efficiency, jobs and economy, public health, renewable energy, resilience/adaptation and transportation (EESI, 2020).

What Are the Reasons for Environmental Injustice?

There are many factors that are the reasons for environmental injustice. Some reason include, but are not limited to; “misguided regulatory policy, discriminatory siting, unequal regulation enforcement and unequal political power” (Diaz, 2019).

The Importance of Environmental Justice

Ensuring that everyone lives in a healthy environment is important and helps to improve their overall health (Skelton & Miller, 2016). We should all work together help to improve the environments of those who live in areas that are affected by such issues. As the population continues to grow, challenges will arise when trying to address the issues of environmental justice. The fight to provide clean air, safe drinking water, adequate transportation and safe living environments should be continuous. We have to understand the correlations between our health and the environment and the solutions that are available to us.

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  • Diaz, S. (2020). Getting to the Root of Environmental Injustice. Retrieved March 29, 2020 from http://vjel.vermontlaw.edu/getting-to-the-root-of-environmental-injustice/.
  • Environmental and Energy Study Institute. (2020). Environmental Justice Topics. Retrieved March 29, 2020 from https://www.eesi.org/topics/environmental-justice.
  • Skelton, R. & Miller, V. (2016). The Environmental Justice Movement. Retrieved March 29, 2020 from https://www.nrdc.org/stories/environmental-justice-movement.
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2020). Environmental Justice. Retrieved March 29, 2020 from https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.