Ensuring equitable access to healthy communities and safe workplaces
In the Puget Sound region and around the world, some communities bear a heavier burden of environmental risks and occupational illnesses and injuries.
Industrial facilities, major roadways, transportation depots and landfills are often concentrated in geographic areas that are also home to minority populations and people with lower socioeconomic status.
People in those areas may have unequal access to health care, recreational space, public transportation and other amenities and may experience unequal enforcement of environmental health standards or clean-up of environmental hazards.
On the job, they may face fewer employment opportunities, less job security and a greater likelihood of adverse health outcomes because of their exposure to hazardous pollutants and unsafe work conditions.
Our commitment to environmental justice
The UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences believes healthy places to live, work and play are fundamental to population health and that everyone should share in the benefits of environmental amenities.
Recent examples of our work to advance environmental justice include:
- Working with community partners to develop an environmental health disparities map for Washington state.
- Studying the health effects of heat exposure in outdoor laborers and the sexual harassment of women in construction trades.
- Leading a study aimed at reducing pediatric asthma cases in immigrant children living in Washington’s Yakima Valley.
- Empowering communities to measure their own air quality and contribute to decisions on how local air pollution is regulated.
- Examining potential health impacts from the Duwamish River cleanup on Native American tribes and people who visit the river or live and work nearby.
- Investigating the air quality impact of air traffic for communities located near and below the flight paths of Sea-Tac International Airport.
- Developing Spanish-language educational materials for Spanish-speaking agricultural and forestry workers about pesticide safety, heat illness, sexual harassment and other workplace issues.
- Sharing lessons learned with collaborators and communities worldwide to empower people to advocate for clean air, clean water, safe food, safe workplaces and sustainable communities.