Understanding the Relationship between Pollution and Poor Health

mold-8Can living in a building with mold, roaches and paint chips make you or your children more likely to have asthma attacks? NPR, in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, recently conducted a poll looking at the social determinants of health in America. When people rated 14 possible causes of ill health, respondents identified exposure to pollution as one of the top five. NPR has been running an audio series this week that looks at these issues.

Since December, residents of the Vine City and English Avenues neighborhoods of Atlanta have been looking at similar issues and trying to determine what they can do together. Neighbors met in late February to discuss next steps to take based on a survey that ECO-Action completed in partnership with Emory University School of Public Health. The survey looked at prevalence of mold in housing near Proctor Creek . It also tried to show the relationships between flooding and health problems. Some of the findings include:

  1. Mold was observed in more than half (53%) of residences,
  2. Residents reported being aware of the mold in their homes in just less than half (47%) of residences in which mold was observed,
  3. Participants with mold observed in their homes overall reported more coughing at night than those without mold,
  4. 14% of the survey participants reported currently having asthma.

In comparison:

  1. 1.5% had visible mold in the living room or bedroom in the American Healthy Homes Survey.
  2. 7.8% of people who participated in the 2010 Georgia Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey reported current asthma.

Additional information about the Proctor Creek Community Collaborative Health Survey can be found  in the Proctor Creek Survey Findings Community Brochure here.

The NPR story provides an easy entrée into a better understanding of the environmental health problems we are seeing in the Proctor Creek area of these neighborhoods. Low income persons living in substandard housing often face exposure to environmental contaminants and experience poor health as a result.

Here is a link to the Tuesday March 3rd show that focused on housing and its impacts on health.You can also watch an hour long forum which examines the social and environmental issues related to health or access links to the rest of the series here.

If you have any concern about air pollution or other environmental health issue in your community and you are willing to organize, you can call ECO-Action. We are ready to assist.

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