DOH Announces Tool to Help Improve Environmental Health Equity

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The Washington State Department of Health (DOH), in collaboration with the University of Washington, on Monday announced new interactive mapping tools to help public services improve equity in environmental health during their transition to cleaner energy production.

These tools will identify communities in Washington that are disproportionately affected by fossil fuel pollution and are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This will help the Ministry of Health and its partners to address these inequalities.

Screenshot of DOH Washington Tracking Network: A Source of Environmental Public Health Data

The new tools will provide utilities with localized data on the environmental, health and climate risks communities face. This information will provide utilities with the support they need to make decisions that advance environmental justice in the state’s shift away from fossil fuels.

Dr Jeremy Hess, Director of the Center for Global Health and Environment at the University of Washington (CHanGE) said:

Accurate community-level data on environmental risks is essential to inform decision-makers’ decisions on funding priorities, environmental policies and strategies to help communities disproportionately affected by pollution. This work is part of CHanGE’s mission to promote the health benefits of climate action and support key decisions on climate change mitigation and adaptation. We are committed to working with our partners to develop these tools in the future. “

Analysis by the DOH shows that 54 of Washington’s 64 electric utilities contain communities heavily impacted by fossil fuel pollution and other risk factors. Communities are strongly affected if they rank nine or ten on the map of environmental health disparities. This map shows exposure to pollution, fossil fuels, and other environmental risks, as well as social vulnerabilities such as income and race.

Jennifer Sabel, senior environmental public health epidemiologist for the Department of Health, said:

It is a step towards helping our communities whose health is most affected by environmental concerns, focusing resources to help them in the transition to clean energy in Washington. “

The Clean Energy Transformation Act, passed by the legislature in 2019, aims to make energy cleaner and healthier. Part of this process required the Ministry of Health to identify communities affected by environmental risk factors and the impacts of climate change. This law commits Washington to a supply of electricity free of greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

This story was posted on our sister site State of Reform.


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