April 10, 2006

Bill Would Investigate “Built Environment’s” Impact on Children’s Health

The Healthy Places Act of 2006 would help state and local governments conduct Health Impact Assessments -- voluntary studies that would help assess the effect of major policies on community health, according to the American Public Health Association. In addition, a new interagency working group would help various federal agencies coordinate efforts on environmental health issues.

The measure was introduced by U.S. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois and Congresswoman Hilda Solis of California.

A grant program would help local governments deal with environmental health hazards. And, "additional support for research on the relationship between the built environment and health, as recommended by two Institute of Medicine reports," APHA notes.

“Healthy communities for children are on the verge of being engineered out of existence, and we must take action to change these harmful built environments to ensure the well-being of our nation’s kids,” said APHA executive director Georges C. Benjamin, MD in a statement.

Without question, it's tougher to raise healthy kids if they can't spontaneously go out to play, if they don't get used to walking places and if they don't have safe and attractive outdoor spaces.
"Today’s cities ... coddle the automobile while denying children the opportunity to experience the wonder and joy of the natural world," according to Dr. Richard Joseph Jackson, director of the National Center for Environmental Health, and Dr. Susan Kay Cummins, the Center's senior health policy advisor, as reported by the Environment News Service. "What child can be allowed independent exploration in cities experienced as dangerous and lacking parks and sidewalks?"

1 comment:

  1. This bill is a very important first step in realigning urban planning with its historically fundamental purpose: protection of public health. Collaboration between environmental health agencies and land/transportation planning agencies is becoming more and more critical as diseases such as asthma and obesity become increasingly epidemic. I would encourage anyone reading this blog to write their congressional representatives to support this bill, as it has received little attention but it is a vitally important direction our federal government needs to take the lead on.