By Sy Mukherjee
April 22, 2019

Happy Monday, readers! I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

On this Earth Day, it’s worth keeping a few facts in mind about the interplay between our personal health and our planet’s health.

Consider the words from the federal government’s own Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: “Humans interact with the environment constantly. These interactions affect quality of life, years of healthy life lived, and health disparities. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines environment, as it relates to health, as ‘all the physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person, and all the related behaviors.’ Environmental health consists of preventing or controlling disease, injury, and disability related to the interactions between people and their environment.”

That’s an excerpt from the Health People 2020 project (launched all the way back in 2010). The objectives of “promoting health for all through a healthy environment” are still in place, as the active Twitter account goes to show.

Just how strongly do these environmental issues affect our day-to-day lives and health? “Globally, 23% of all deaths and 26% of deaths among children under age 5 are due to preventable environmental factors,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Air and water quality, the specter of toxic substances in the very places we live, and inequities in infrastructure can all mix up into a deadly cocktail. That’s a reality driving certain health care companies to put an increased focus on the “social determinants of health,” including these exact environmental factors.

That’s all well and good. But, if we’re to believe that the environment is this critical to health, it’s going to take more than the medical industry itself to address the problem.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


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