Lisa Wehr's Public Health Blog

Lisa is originally from Sigourney, Iowa. She attended Iowa State University and received her bachelor’s degree in Music in 2010. She is currently a first year Master’s of Public Health (MPH) student in community and behavioral health (CBH). Lisa works on the medicine-psychiatry unit at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC). Through this blog Lisa hopes to let people learn about the CBH department.

This student blog is unedited and does not necessarily reflect the views of the College of Public Health or the University of Iowa.

25 November 2011

Environmental Disparities

As I was driving this week I caught up on some of my NPR podcasts. One just blew me away. It was about the community, environmental pollution, and resulting health issues around the Tonawanda Coke factory [read/listen here]. For years the factory was emitting toxic substances way above the levels reported to the EPA. Through years of concerted effort by the citizens and the help of an insider at the factory. The state environmental agency refused to test for many of the chemicals for years because of the cost. The citizens started their case with a air sample device made out of a bucket and other supplies from a hardware stare.

It makes one wonder (and even the reporter mentions this) how much earlier would this have been stopped if the factory was in an affluent community?

Why should people be testing their air with homemade bucket devices? Why were plant inspections scheduled, giving the factory a chance to change the settings on devices that routinely emitted toxins like benzene?

And upon coming home and looking up the article again I discovered this is part of a series called Poisoned Places: Toxic Air, Neglected Communities. If you have any interest in health disparities or environmental health I would suggest check out the series' page as it has links to all of the stories and a map of the government's watch list for certain non-compliant facilities (and an explanation for which non-compliant companies wind up on the watch list), including 3 in the Iowa City/Coralville area.

Oh, and a happy belated Thanksgiving!

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