Coretopic:Environmental Health

The relationship between people and their environment is as critical to their well-being as any other aspect of their lives. Environmental health specifically refers to how the environment including land and built structures — impacts health. Reporting on environmental health examines the policies and programs that work to address chemical exposure through air, soil, housing, food and water.

Communities of color and low-income communities suffer disproportionately from poor environmental health. Historically, these areas have experienced structural and environmental racism — such as the placement of freeways and chemical polluters — that has led to poor health outcomes and inequities for residents. Poor environmental health is especially detrimental to children. Children breathe more air and eat more food than adults. They are lower to the ground and may play on soil or pavement; even small amounts of toxic chemicals can affect their development.

The implications of environmental health on large swaths of the population are immense and only growing in urgency. Journalists covering the nexus of health and the environment must explore the policies, or lack thereof, that fostered adverse environmental health outcomes and how those impact people already burdened by poverty and inadequate health care.

Elizabeth Aguilera is AHCJ's core topic leader for environmental health. An award-winning multimedia journalist, Aguilera specializes in stories about where policy meets people. She has been reporting for more than two decades across platforms from print to public radio to digital and podcast. Her beats have ranged from urban affairs to immigration and health care. Currently, as a freelance journalist, Aguilera is focused on environmental health, immigration and the impact of climate change on low-income communities. Aguilera most recently worked for CalMatters, where she covered the health and welfare of children and youth, previously covered health care policy and co-hosted a politics podcast leading up to the 2021 elections. Previously, Aguilera reported for Southern California Public Radio/KPCC 89.3 where she produced stories about community health. There, her reporting revealed lead-tainted soil on school campuses near a former lead battery recycling plant that spurred district action. She wrote about immigration and demographics for the San Diego Union-Tribune where her coverage of sex trafficking between Mexico and the United States won a "Best of the West" award. Aguilera also worked at the Denver Post, where she was named a finalist for the Livingston Award for her reporting on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

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Environmental Health news — from Covering Health