Determinants of Health

6. Physical Environments

Physical environments include both the natural and built world around us.

Air, water and soil – these make up the natural world. Housing, indoor air, safety, community design and the transportation system – these are some examples of what can make up our built environment. These environments affect public health and each of us as individuals.

At certain levels of exposure, contaminants in our air, water, food and soil can cause a variety of adverse health effects, including cancer, birth defects, respiratory illness and gastrointestinal ailments.1

 

Natural environment

It can be easy to forget that a city has a natural environment. But this is where Toronto is rooted.

Lori Hunter, assistant professor of sociology and environmental studies at the University of Colorado, writes that “Although research on the HIV/AIDS and environment intersection is in its infancy, the early evidence suggests that the public health, HIV/AIDS, and environmental policy and advocacy communities would gain strength by recognizing the overlaps in their agendas.”2

In the built environment, factors related to housing, indoor air quality, and the design of communities and transportation systems can significantly influence our physical and psychological well-being.3

 

Built environment

Think of the urban sprawl of the city itself, and throughout the Greater Toronto Area. Think of public transportation. For a healthy person, it can be a challenge getting around without a car. Many services that specialize in HIV treatment and support are located downtown. Getting there can be a problem.

Improving transit is a concrete way to address the issue. Bringing services closer to women’s homes is another. Shared Health Exchange (SHE) comes to you. We provide services and resources to help you help women at risk of and living with HIV.

Women who may already be accessing your agency.

Please contact us! We’re here to support you and your clients.

 

Shared Health Exchange at ACT

Email: she@actoronto.org
Phone: 416-340-2437 x. 453

 

More from Shared Health Exchange

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1 What Makes Canadians Healthy or Unhealthy?, Underlying Premises and Evidence Table, Public Health Agency of Canada, online as of June 2011
2 HIV/AIDS and the Natural Environment, Lori M. Hunter, Population Reference Bureau, online as of June 2011
3 What Makes Canadians Healthy or Unhealthy?, Underlying Premises and Evidence Table, Public Health Agency of Canada, online as of June 2011