Government launches new tool that tracks environmental health impacts


The news: The Biden administration rolled out the Environmental Justice Index (EJI)a national tool to measure the impact of environmental factors such as pollution on human health and health equity.

How it works: The index maps the communities most exposed to environmental risks such as air pollution.

It pulls data from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Mine Safety and Health Administration, and the US Census Bureau.

  • The EJI scores communities based on environmental justice and areas such as social vulnerability, environmental burden, and health vulnerability.
  • For example, the index can study how an environmental factor like pollution affects people with pre-existing conditions like asthma.
  • The EJI ranks census tracts based on 36 environmental, social and health factors.
  • For context, EJI follows a similar approach geospatial mapping tool the White House released in beta in February to identify underserved areas affected by pollution.

Why is this important: Health equity is a serious issue, as populations have varying access to care. Providers and payers should be able to access government data and assess areas at risk of pollution, lack of clean water and other environmental risks.

  • As much as 80% of a person’s health outcomes come from elements of the social determinants of health (SDH) such as education, nutrition, access to transport and the environment.
  • More … than 99% of doctors said that at least some of their patients are affected by at least one social determinant, according a February 2022 survey by the Physicians Foundation.

Go further: Discover our Report on the social determinants of health investments to learn how healthcare organizations are investing in SDOH.


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