Environmental Justice

Environmental Justice addresses the disproportionate environmental risks borne by low-income communities and communities of color resulting from poor housing stock, poor nutrition, lack of access to healthcare, unemployment, underemployment, and employment in the most hazardous jobs. Lead poisoning, asthma and poor housing conditions are of particular concern in Ingham County.

Environmental Justice initiatives of the Ingham County Health Department are coordinated according to the "spectrum of prevention" model for eliminating health disparities, as articulated by the Prevention Institute. Projects emphasize community engagement, community building, and capacity building approaches to resident empowerment.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation - Policies that Promote Health Model

"Environmental Justice is the right to a safe, healthy, productive, and sustainable environment, where 'environment' is considered in its totality to include the ecological, physical, social, political, aesthetic, and economic environment. 

Environmental justice addresses the disproportionate environmental risks borne by low-income communities and communities of color resulting from poor housing stock, poor nutrition, lack of access to healthcare, unemployment, underemployment, and employment in the most hazardous jobs."  

- National Association of City and County Health Officials

Environmental justice seeks to prevent diseases before their biological onset by preventing environmental exposures, attending to the social determinants of health, and confronting root causes explicitly.

The Coordinator of Environmental Initiatives at the Ingham County Health Department:
  • Provides individual education and technical  assistance
  • Develops educational, informational and promotional materials and outreach strategies
  • Coordinates, promotes and participates in:
    • grant contracts
    • workshops
    • conferences
    • presentations
    • community events
    • introductions to expand EJ community capacity
    • coalitions
    • health and community assessment
    • health innovations
    • policy, system and environmental changes


General Reports and Presentations:
Other Reports and Presentations: 
(presentations and reports on specific objectives are located within the links listed above, these items are considered"other EJ practices and approaches)
EJ Capacity Building Materials
Other EJ Organizations, Initiatives, Laws and Reports:

Coping with Extremely Hot Weather

The longer the weather stays hot, the more our bodies need a break in a cool place. Cooling centers are air-conditioned locations such as senior centers and community centers where people can go to get out of the heat for a few hours on hot days. See list of cooling centers (call first as not all are open throughout the summer) and heat-safety tips below. During heat waves and heat wave emergencies, stay in a cool indoor location, do not leave pets or children in a car, and drink plenty of water. Top choices for Ingham County residents surveyed in 2011 for staying cool without home air conditioning:

  1. Pool, beach, lake or other water source  (Listings here: http://pk.ingham.org/ and http://www.lansingmi.gov/parks)
  2. Friends’ or family members’ residence
  3. Public cooling centers (call first)

Pets and Heat
Call Capital Area Humane Society at 517-626-6060.

Staying Cool on a Budget
In our 2011 survey of 1,731 Ingham County residents about hot weather impacts, 73% report "increasing utility bills" as a top impact of the increasing number of extremely hot days. Check out this new resource to keep your bills down: 

Most respondents to the 2011 survey did not report availability of a 3-day supply of water, 3-day supply of medications, radio, land line phone, or back-up power generator. These items, as well as flashlights, are recommended supplies. Build a kit!

Some Medications Can Increase Your Risk of Heat-Illness
From the Mayo Clinic: "Be especially careful in hot weather if you take medications that narrow your blood vessels (vasoconstrictors), regulate your blood pressure by blocking adrenaline (beta blockers), rid your body of sodium and water (diuretics), or reduce psychiatric symptoms (antidepressants or antipsychotics). Stimulants for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and illegal stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine also make you more vulnerable to heatstroke." Guidance from WebMD 

Protect Your Skin
Consider information from Environmental Working Group about the safest sunscreens for you and your family.

Know, Visit and Help Your Neighbors
"Resilience is about Relationships, Not Just Infrastructure": Lessons from the Chicago heat-wave of 1995 show that community cohesion, frequent social contact and neighborhood infrastructure are protective factors for heat-emergencies, regardless of income. Identify neighbors who don’t have air-conditioning, have difficulty getting around and/or have chronic health conditions. Check on neighbors who may have trouble with heat daily during a heat wave. Encourage visiting a cooling center and arrange rides if needed.

Watch for signs of Heat-Related Illness:
  • Heat cramps: Muscle pain and spasms.
  • Heat exhaustion: Cool, moist, pale or flushed skin. Heavy sweating. Headache. Nausea or vomiting. Move to cool place, drink a glass of cool water every 15 minutes, monitor for worsening symptoms.
  • Heat stroke: Hot, red skin. Feeling faint or disoriented. Rapid, weak pulse. Shallow breathing. Dry skin. High body temperature. Heat Stroke is life threatening, call 9-1-1!

Transportation for anyone who cannot use CATA’s regular fixed route buses can be arranged by calling 2-1-1. Free rides are available for those with a physical and financial need.

Heat-Safety Tips

·         Go to a cooling center or other air-conditioned location for several hours each day.

·         Slow down. Avoid heavy activity.

·         Stay indoors on the lowest floor.

·         Wear light-weight, light-colored clothing.

·         Drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol or caffeinated drinks.

·         Eat small meals and more often.

·         Avoid salt tablets unless directed by physician.

Printer-friendly flyer with information from this page.

*If you live in a Lansing Housing Commission multi-unit property and you or your child have asthma, you could qualify for the ACE program,which often includes air-conditioner installation Visit ACE here or call Courtney Wisinski at  517.335.8252