EH Protection Earth

Environmental Protection and Sustainability

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Environmental Health Awareness

EH drawingClimate Change

What is “climate change?”  What are the causes and potential health impacts?  Changes in climate over the past 40 years are having impacts for all of us.

Columbus Public Health and The Ohio State University collaborated on a project to present the most recent climate change information to Columbus residents, measure residents’ current knowledge about the issue, and learn what individual and government actions they would support to address health and environmental impacts. 

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Climate Change in Central Ohio: Why We Should Act
Columbus Public Health and the Oho State University share the best available science around climate change and how it is impacting central Ohio. View Presentation 

Hydraulic Fracturing

Recent technological advances in the extraction of natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth now make it possible to access energy source from areas once unavailable for exploration.  The resulting “fracking” boom has resulted in significant new sources of energy, but also raised questions concerning environmental safety and oversight.

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Knowledge, Impact and Action - What Columbus Residents Think 
Columbus Public Health and The Ohio State University  presented climate change information to community residents throughout the Columbus area in an effort to:
1. Provide the most up-to-date scientific information on climate change,
2. Gauge audience’s level of knowledge on this issue, and 
3. Learn what individual and government strategies they would support to address the problem.

View Report - Climate Change and Public Health

Outdoor Air Quality and Health

The air we breathe contains pollutants that can harm us, depending on the type of pollutant and level of exposure.     Learn more about outdoor air quality, including pollution sources, how pollution can affect us, who’s responsible for regulation and what you can do if you’re concerned about the issue. 

Learn more -- Outdoor Air Quality and Health

Poor outdoor air quality from mobile sources can contribute to a variety of health problems.  These include low-level, temporary conditions like irritation to eyes, nose and throat, to significant, permanent damage at high levels of exposure.

Air pollution has been found to be a contributing factor for some of the most serious health conditions, including many of the leading causes of death annually in Franklin County.  These include cancer, heart disease, Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease (CLRD) and stroke.  Poor outdoor air quality can also exacerbate chronic diseases like asthma.  According to the 2017 Community Health Assessment for Franklin County, 10.9% of county residents are currently diagnosed with asthma, with observed disparities between men (7.7%) and women (13.8%), and non-Hispanic whites (9.5%) and blacks (11.8%).  In addition, 8.7% of Franklin County children 0-17 have at one time been diagnosed with asthma.  Finally, air pollution has also been shown to be a significant contributor to early mortality.  A 2013 MIT study has suggested that nationally, exposure to mobile source pollution results in over 53,000 early deaths each year, with early death defined as a person dying 10 years earlier than they would otherwise.

Air pollutants can also pose a threat to wildlife, harming wildlife itself, and its habitat, food and water sources. Pollution taken in through inhalation or ingestion can damage organs, affect growth or reproductive functions, and environmental pollutants can also accumulate in wildlife food sources. While much of Columbus is an urban environment, it contains significant areas of natural habitat, including two major rivers with riparian corridors and more than 230 city and metro parks.  These natural areas are important in providing residents with an improved quality of life, which can positively impact both mental and physical health.

 All of this suggests a need for information to be provided to Columbus-area residents concerning outdoor air quality, the pollutants found in our air and potentially harmful exposures during episodes of poor air quality.  Toward that end, Columbus Public Health is partnering with Worthington schools, The Ohio State University’s College of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering, and the Ohio Environmental Education Fund in developing an air quality education project. 

The project will fund the construction of 2 ambient air sensing stations that would monitor for the presence of carbon monoxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter.  The stations will be mounted at both Thomas Worthington and Worthington Kilbourne high schools.  Data from the stations, together with supplemental information supplied by Columbus Public Health, will be used by school science instructors, to help educate students about air quality, the pollutants found in ambient air and how they are measured, and the possible health impacts from air pollution.  The information will also be used in an education module for summer students attending Camp Public Health – a weeklong introduction to Columbus Public Health and its work – held each year.