UVA Health hosts Medical Center Hour on environmental injustice

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 5:05 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - When people talk about climate change, they’re almost always talking about the weather, but experts with UVA health say people’s personal health is also being impacted by climate change.

UVA’s Medical Center Hour invites health experts to sit on a panel and host a discussion. Doctor Ebony Hilton hosted this week’s discussion on environmental injustice and began with a story from her childhood.

“Environmental injustice is happening at the community level,” Hilton said. “We saw and heard on the news that our water was contaminated, but yet it was still allowed to flow through your faucet. Those are the things that made me an activist.”

The panelists spoke on how factories and zoning combine to hurt people, particularly minorities, through purposeful placement and systematic racism. The existing harm is further complicated by global warming.

“We see that a lot of causes of climate change which are big industries that burn fossil fuels are disproportionately located in low wealth communities and communities of color,” Hilton said.

When the discussion opened up to questions, one challenged UVA to include more information on the relationship between health and climate change in its curriculum. Fourth year medical student Lena Bichell says it is still a work in progress.

“This group that I’m a part of has been really hounding the teaching faculty every year with examples of how heat impacts kidney function or how air quality has pulmonary impacts, those sorts of things,” Bichell said.

If you wish to attend future Medical Center Hours, the schedule can be found here.

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