SPPH Seminar Series Presents, "Where we live, work, and play: The environment and public health" by Dr. Croisant, PhD
Environmental health is the branch of public health that examines and addresses the sometimes complex relationships between the health of individuals and communities with their environments, including physical, chemical, biological, social, or psychosocial factors. Examples include basic needs for clean air and water and issues impacting entire communities, such as proper use and regulation of toxic chemicals, neighborhood safety and walkability, and occupational hazards and risks. It also includes mental health, given the complex relationships between our mental health and genetics, lifestyle, psychological, and other factors. Environmental conditions and exposures including air and water pollution, weather patterns, accessible green space, and housing may be protective or harmful, depending upon an individual’s particular circumstances. In our case, i.e., as citizens of the Gulf, we often struggle with many of these issues, including both legacy and contemporary pollutants. The Galveston/Houston port complexes, for example, are among the busiest in the world. Over the past >100 years, land adjacent to the Houston Ship Channel has come to include a vast petrochemical and industrial complex with more than a dozen federal Superfund sites. Known pollutants include PAHs, mercury, dioxins, furans, and PCBs, among others. Local waterways feeding and fed by the Ship Channel are largely unsafe for swimming or fishing, compounded by critical problems with flooding in the coastal watershed. In many cases, negative impacts are disproportionately experienced by communities of color and low socioeconomic status, who must often contend with issues of social and environmental justice. In this seminar, I will highlight research and interventions in which we’ve engaged to elucidate problems or mitigate the impact of exposures. I will also include a description of our current work, in which we welcome student involvement.