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The Sociology of Environmental Health. Sociological Processes & Environmental Health Assessments A number of sociological processes play a role in environmental.

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Presentation on theme: "The Sociology of Environmental Health. Sociological Processes & Environmental Health Assessments A number of sociological processes play a role in environmental."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Sociology of Environmental Health

2 Sociological Processes & Environmental Health Assessments A number of sociological processes play a role in environmental health assessments – Gender inequality (EBCM) – Racial and ethnic identity – Social norms and structures (GWI) – Political economy – Environmental justice

3 DEP vs EP Dominant Epidemiological Paradigm Biomedical model – Individual – Genetic – Medical/etiology – Neutrality of medicine – Treatment – Risk management Environmental Paradigm – Population – Environmental and political factors – Prevention – Precautionary principle

4 DEP vs EP Sick individuals Why are some individuals sick? Sick populations Why are some groups sick while others are not? Requires different methods – Innovative methods – Topics of study – GIS – Survey methods – Novel epidemiological and toxicological methods – Collaboration with laypeople

5 Tragedies: Making the Case for Environmental Health 1950s – Minamata Bay, Japan 1970s – Michigan 1970s – Love Canal, NY 1984 – Bhopal, India World Trade Centre 2007 – Ivory Coast

6 Chronic Mishaps Lead poisoning Cancer Toxins in personal care products War causes Climate change

7 Climate Change Creating one of the greatest public health issues of this century. Five main health concerns – Air pollution-related illness – Temperature-related illness – Vector-borne diseases – Water and food-borne disease – Illness or injury from extreme weather events

8 Heat Waves Heat waves affect groups differently based on their race, gender, age, and medical and socioeconomic status. Minority communities Inner-city areas Lack of access to health care Migration measures

9 Policy Making Policy addressing climate-related health and illness originated in late 1980s and 1990s – US EPA (1989) “The Potential Effects of GCC” – UN (1992) The Framework Convention on CC – OTA (1993) “Preparing for Uncertain Climate” – US EPA (1997) … medical and public health practitioners better educate the public about heat events – US Congress (1998) US National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Climate

10 Policy Making Shaped by political tensions (199) Public Law , the US Global Climate Change Research Act.. Stimulate a 10 year plan for national agencies such as EPA, DE, NIEHS, among others, to develop an understanding of and necessary responses to climate change.

11 Many Scientific and Political Obstacles Many public official resist acknowledging that heat is increasing because it might – Result in better regulation of the air pollution which causes global warming – There are medical and scientific factors that make it difficult for policymakers to deal with illnesses caused by heat waves.

12 Public Health Impacts Climate change is just one of the emerging concerns of environmental health specialists Others include – The accumulation of chemicals in the human body – Decreasing availability of clean water and resulting water-borne illnesses – Environmental crimes that lack international regulations

13 Conclusion Making connections between health and the environment is often first achieved by those who suffer environmental illnesses. In order for them to gain compensation for their losses and to stop these exposures, public officials must also accept their claims A key component of this latter process is scientific proof If an affected community has research that proves an illness is connected to certain exposures, it is much easier to gain the proper treatment and prevention A key political principle that may improve environmental health is the precautionary principle


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