Natural Environment


Safe and non-toxic water, soil, indoor and outdoor air are imperative to ensuring community health and protecting residents. Pollution and toxic exposures impose devastating health risks on residents, which often require complex and expensive treatment and care.


  • Toxic waste sites and facilities that release toxic emissions are more likely to be sited in low-income neighborhoods.¹
  • Lower income communities that are predominantly non-white have higher rates of asthma, lead poisoning, and mortality.
  • Ninety-two percent of children at schools ranked in the bottom fifth for air quality are children of color.²

Connection Across Determinants

Cultural Identity:

  • In Native American communities, a history of broken treaties subjected resident to living in poor environmental conditions and has also allowed the pollution and destruction of significant cultural sites.³

  1. Christian-Smith J, Gleick P, Cooley H, Allen L, Vanderwarker A, Berry. A Twenty-First Century U.S. Water Policy. Accessed June 21, 2017.
  2. Larsen BA, Pekmezi D, Marquez B, Benitez TJ, Marcus BH. Physical activity in Latinas: social and environmental influences. Womens Health Lond Engl. 2013;9(2). doi:10.2217/whe.13.9.
  3. Westra L. Environmental Justice and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: International and Domestic Legal Perspectives. Routledge; 2012.