Physical Environment

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The physical environment is where individuals live, learn, work and play. People interact with their physical environment through the air they breathe, the water they drink, the homes in which they live and the transportation they use.

There are stark differences in the opportunities to live in healthy physical environments between counties and within counties. This is especially true for people with low incomes and for people of color. These differences exist because of the long legacy of discrimination, disinvestment and exploitation in the United States. The differences are rooted in systems, policies and practices such as redlining, predatory lending, corporate industrial abuses and legacies of broken land treaties and genocide.

Clean air and safe water are necessary for good health. Air pollution is associated with increased asthma rates and lung diseases and an increase in premature deaths from heart and lung disease. Contaminated water can lead to illness, infection and increased risks of cancer.

Stable, affordable housing can provide a safe environment for families to live, learn and grow. However, housing is often a family’s largest expense. When rent or mortgage payments are too high, families are forced to make difficult choices between paying for other essentials such as utilities, food, transportation or medical care.

Physical Environment includes: