Air Issues in Pilsen

Image result for air issues pilsen The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is concerned about pollution in the Pilsen neighborhood area due to emission from by H Kramer & co. Their have been community concerns that the corporation has been violating the Clean Air Act and State Air pollution violations at firms brass smelting foundry in the Pilsen area.

To resolve this issue the EPA have required parametric monitoring to ensure that lead pollution control devices, pulse jet bag house filters, and High Efficiency Particulate Air  (HEPA) filters operate effectively. Ambient air monitors have been installed in the community although they are not required.

The use of parametric monitoring would be beneficial to communities in measuring the monthly ambient air quality in the community. This will help companies become mindful of the amount of emissions they put in the air, thus making them follow air quality regulations. This will also be beneficial to residents as they will know the air quality of the community they live in.

For future community issues the city government should first address the public through the media in letting the entire community know about the issues in their community. Next, the government should engage with that community about possible solutions to mitigate the problem. Lastly, they should resolve the issues in such away that doesn’t further harm the community or its surrounding environment.


Food Deserts

The health of people living in low income and southern communities appears to be low, and some some of the main reasons as to why, are associated with the fact that low income neighborhoods don’t have access to healthy foods –areas known as food deserts. However, the development of urban agricultural gardens would bring much more sustainability into communities that are fighting poverty.  These gardens would consist of fresh fruits and vegetables that can be cropped by residents of that community and sold to for a reasonable price. As a community everyone can work together to help maintain the garden in good standards and promote this healthy life style to other communities. These gardens would give residents an opportunity to buy food and to stay healthy. Another reason why residents can’t seem to get out of poverty is because they are forced to live up to what they are given. Which means that their health is also at risk because they can’t keep up with strict diets because they can’t afford the food they need. According to the Food Empowerment Project “Ethnic minority and low-income populations suffer from statistically higher rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other diet-related conditions than the general population”. This means that because people cannot afford healthy foods they also have to deal with the consequences of becoming ill. This only make matters worse because they most likely won’t go to the hospital to get help because they also can’t afford it. It’s almost like a chain of events: Low income equals cheap foods, which can equal poor health, which can also equal no hospital visits because they can’t afford it. For example according to an Atlantic Article the average price of fruits and vegetables at a convenient store is 11% more expensive than that sold at a supermarket. That would mean that if three pounds of tomatoes costs $1.47 at a super market, that same pound of tomatoes would be sold at $1.61, which is 20 cents much more expensive. Although twenty cents doesn’t seem to be very expensive, people living in food deserts shouldn’t have to pay more.

chicago-map-food-desert(City of Chicago, 2013)

The map demonstrates which neighborhoods have the highest food desert rates.  Most of these highlighted southern neighborhoods consist of Hispanic and African American populations. It is rather unfair that these locations don’t have access to nearby fresh produce, unlike the northern suburbs that do. However, Agricultural gardens would be a great way to minimize the number of food deserts while also taking an initiative to creating jobs and an economy.


“Mayor Emanuel Announces Release of Food Desert Data and New Interactive Efforts to Combat Food Deserts in Chicago.” City of Chicago: 27 Aug. 2013. Web.

Khazan, Olga. “Why Don’t Convenience Stores Sell Better Food?” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 5 Mar. 2015. Web. .

High STI infection rates- an urban issue

As of 2014, chlamydia trachomatis is the most common reportable communicable disease in both men and women in Chicago. However, reported cases of the most common sexually transmitted infections have generally decreased in the past five years; total number of reported chlamydia infections decreased by 7% between 2009-2013 and total number of reported gonorrhea cases decreased by 13% from 2012 to 2013. Nonetheless another STI has remained a prevalent public health threat. Primary and secondary syphilis infections diagnosed in Chicago remain constant, and it persists to disproportionately affect non-Hispanic blacks, men, and men seeking men (MSM). Diagnosed syphilis infections have also proven to significantly affect those between the ages of 20 and 29 years, experiencing an estimated annual increase in infections of 4% since 2009. Geographic distribution of new infections has also provided interesting trends in STI diagnoses; the two community areas with the highest average gonorrhea and chlamydia rates were West Garfield Park and Washington, while the highest average syphilis infection diagnosis rates were located in Edgewater and Avalon Park.

Relatively high rates of STI infection diagnoses have remained a prevalent public health issue in Chicago for a significant number of years and continue to affect thousands of city residents each year. Upon viewing infection diagnosis rates and their relationship to different demographics and community areas within Chicago, it is clear to see that different infections tend to affect similar concentrations of age groups and neighborhoods; those 13 to 24 years old accounted for 65% of gonorrhea cases and 70% of chlamydia cases, while 44% of primary and secondary syphilis cases were among those under age 30. These high infection rates among young people are alarming, especially considering their correlation to certain neighborhoods within the city. As long as infection diagnosis rates persist without signs of decreasing, annual STI infection diagnoses will remain an important public health sustainability issue for these community areas and the greater city of Chicago.

Given the vast majority of annual infections occur for those between the ages of 13 and 24, the negative effects of continuously disinvested public education systems have been made evident by way of consistently high rates of STI infection rates among young people in Chicago. A crucial course of action towards decreasing rates of STI infection, especially for young people within south and west side neighborhoods, would be to increase and enhance sexual and reproductive health education within schools. Cities can prioritize sexual education through a variety of means, regardless if within the classroom or walking down a street. Cities and schools specifically can partner to reduce STI infection rates by enhancing sexual education at all levels of academics. In order to reach out to other demographics, cities also have the power to spread awareness, knowledge, and normalcy through ad campaigns, education services, testing clinics, and other public services.


Stein, Efrat. “Chicago Department of Public Health Launches “Get Tested Chicago” a Syphilis Public      Awareness Campaign.” City of Chicago :: Chicago Department of Public Health Launches    “Get Tested Chicago” a Syphilis Public Awareness Campaign. N.p., 2011. Web. 28 Feb. 2017.

Chicago Department of Public Health. HIV/STI Surveillance Report, 2014. Chicago, IL: City of Chicago; December 2014.

Air Pollution

Chicago has been plagued by heavy air pollution for a long time. Since around the 70s, more laws and regulations have been passed to help reduce emissions and keep the air clean. This has worked for many years, especially with the advancements in technology. The current nationwide trend is decreasing air pollution across the board. However, recently air pollution, especially ozone, have increased and are becoming more problematic for the health of Chicagoans. According to the 2016 state of the air report, Chicago increased from 30 to 42 orange ozone days, and six to ten red ozone days from 2015-2016.

I believe the best course of action would be passing laws to weed out gas guzzling vehicles and soon enough become electric only. Electric cars have a bright future. They are not the solution, but definitely part of it. One immediate effect of switching to electric vehicles would be an enormous reduction in emissions. Many people drive to the city from the suburbs and from the city to the suburbs five or six days a week just for work. Reducing these emissions is just one step toward healthier air for all of Chicago. There’s a lot more we can do, and it all really boils down to energy. How we get our energy is important. If we switch to electric cars, but we don’t convert our energy production to renewables, then we aren’t making near as much progress as we need. Everyone is affected by this proposal, not just people who own or will own cars. Air quality matters to everyone because we all have to breathe. However, way we get our energy may seem distant to some people, but they should be aware, it greatly affects them and their health just as much.

This plan would not only help clean the air, but it would be beneficial to everyone. For one, we would no longer have to worry about gas prices. Maintenance would be much less intense and far easier across the board. Imagine not having to worry about getting an oil change anymore.

“This building makes me feel sick”


Chicago is a highly dense urban condition that is characterized by a linear architectural configuration, designed to accommodate the growing population of the city. Despite being reputed, as a city that advocated green urban development strategies it is note worthy that most of Chicago’s architectural development pre dates modern green development strategies and technologies.

Although Chicago as an urban condition laid it foundation as a “garden city” that called for green spaces in the fabric it is noted that most of the city dwellers find themselves in doors most of the year due to the extreme weather conditions. Buildings developed using old technology and lacking green strategy coupled with the increasing amount of time Chicagoeans spend indoor can lead to a number of health concerns, particularly the “Sick Building Syndrome”.

The sick building syndrome is a term used to describe a situation in which building occupants experience acute health and comfort effects linked to the time spent in the building, while no specific cause or illness can be described but symptoms include:

  • Skin irritation,
  • Non specific hyper sensitivity reactions,
  • Fatigue,
  • Headaches,
  • Skin dryness,
  • Gastrointestinal complaints
  • Chest tightness
  • Etc.

Are all conditions that arise as a part of SBS.



While no direct cause is identified since SBS is the result of many factors that exists within the building that affects the air quality of that building with the inhabitants breathe in. Factors that are primarily responsible for SBS can track to back to:

  • Chemical contaminants such as Radon’s, Asbestos, etc, from outdoor sources
  • Volatile organic compounds from adhesives, carpeting, wood products, cleaning agents, tobacco, copy machines etc.
  • Biological contaminants like pollen, bacteria, and molds
  • Poor ventilation
  • Radiations from televisions, microwaves, poor wiring
  • Poor lighting
  • Etc.



Improving the indoor air and environmental quality of the building is a single most effective way that can directly improve the overall physical and mental health of inhabitants along with over all satisfaction since Americans spend 90% of time indoors. Exposure to chemicals present long-term health issues for inhabitants in addition to being harmful to the environment. While there are many ways to prevent SBS by controlling indoor air quality such as: Increased ventilation, indoor plants, regular vacuuming etc. however presenting a single plan to limit and monitor indoor air quality to prevent SBS will be trough the implementation of proper legislations that set standards and limitations on Electromagnetic radiation (EMR).

            EMR is non-thermal radiation and does not present warning before affecting human health. In addition there are currently no government standard in North America that established safe human exposure limits, thus putting humans and inhabitants at the risk of high exposures as devices and infrastructure like high power lines, smart meters etc go un monitored and uncontrolled. In the past legislations have proven their significance towards improving indoor air quality by banning CFCs in the Montreal Protocol, thus proving that implementations of regulations and policies can be carried out and can improve human and environmental health.



By placing limits and setting a standard on human exposure to EMR will be a large step towards reducing SBS and ultimately long term health issues that results due to time spent in doors. EMR do not only pose threat to humans but also to animals and plants as they diminish cell’s abilities to produce healthy cells. When life of human, plants and animals is at risk this produces great threats for the larger ecosystem to develop and sustain it self.

Limits and standard will allow business and the state to maintain operations and encourage innovation and research in to alternative strategies that benefit human and environmental health for a thriving ecosystem. A population that is free from SBS will not only be healthy but will also be able to generate larger economic benefits as productivity at work would rise.

Some steps we can take to limit our exposure to EMR:

Limiting cell phone use

Turning off wifi routers when not in use

Keeping electronic at least 6ft away from your bed.



Food Desert or Fast food

Food deserts is defined as an area without access to a grocery store where fresh food is sold and it has to be within walking distance. These are common and seen in many parts of the city of Chicago. Usually found in lower income neighborhoods and typically those with minorities. The small neighborhood of Englewood is a great example of a neighborhood that lacked a grocery store so that residents could purchase fresh fruit, vegetables, and meats. A “Whole Foods” was added shortly after Rahm Emanuel was put into office. It now serves the community  members as well as provided a job opportunity to many. Providing fresh markets into neighborhoods that are considered food deserts has both its pros and cons. One thing it does is it allows for people to choose healthier food options which may have a positive effect on the overall health of the population. Furthermore, it also provides job opportunities for those in the neighborhood. Some negative effects of eliminating food deserts is that these grocery stores that are added into the neighborhood may be too expensive for some people and in other words may cause some people to leave their neighborhood. Furthermore, if the grocery store that is added does not fit into the budget of the people it will only encourage them to purchase cheap unhealthy food. Something the government can do is instead of adding an expensive grocery store that may not even benefit the community as a whole is to use empty and unoccupied space around the neighborhood and change it into a community garden that allows people to obtain fresh and healthy food. It would be a great way to eliminate food deserts and to gather people to work in their community. Community gardens may also be more financially reasonable to other people.


Behavioral Health



          There has been a direct correlation between accessibility and behavioral health. In Chicago, people experience more psychological distress if they live in low-income communities. Primarily, it’s because these communities have little to no access to resources needed to be informed and diagnosed properly.

According to Healthy Chicago 2.0 Report, “[p]eople living in high poverty neighborhoods had double the Chicago rate” of serious psychological distress…“one third of youth reported prolonged periods of sadness…25% higher among young girls” (40). The Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation says that “six of twelve mental health care facilities have been closed down by the state, including facilities in the heart of the city’s’ African American community on the South Side”. With poverty, residents may not have the means to travel in order to get screened. In order to reverse this trend, there are plans that could be put into place.

This can be done through preventative and proactive means. Under resourced neighborhoods usually have higher rates of diseases, so educating the public is always needed. Building green facilities not only would decrease the amount of cases, but have a positive impact on the minds in the community.  




Air Pollution and Limit Radiation

Chicago should have more trees and have more green spaces around the city. This can help people with better fresh air. The green spaces can take in the carbon dioxide. These greener spaces can be put in the middle of big neighborhoods and more trees can be planted around areas. However, there are many people that don’t see how much trees and plants in green spaces can help the environment to clean the air. Also, trees and plants should be planted inside buildings because it can help freshen up breathing. All these little things can help with the air pollution. Currently right outside of Chicago, there is a lot of air pollution near the Chicago and Indiana border. People are currently inhaling the air into their lungs and can affect other parts of the body. There was a recent study which injuries from suffocations and asphyxiations. Asphyxiations is where the body has an abnormal breathing. Due to all the factories near the south side of Chicago, the air pollution around that area has a “yellow fog”. There isn’t really much fresh air in the area where it can cause a breathing problem for people. In the long run, expected children from pregnant women can have problems tissue and organ problems. The amount of fresh air lacks in areas.

Also, there should be charging bikes at certain areas. Human energy should be used to charge their phones because this can help reduce the energy usage. It can help both the person and phone because it can give exercise or a good work out of people to charge their phones. Also, there should every building should change their light bulbs to LEDs to save more energy which can lower the price on electricity. These are two methods to lower energy usage drastically because charging phones and lights uses up a lot of electricity. This can help conserve energy usage from using other ways to charge things. Also, these two methods can stop pollution from radiation. There are a lot of radiation pollution from just charging phones and using other light sources to light up buildings. Radiation and air pollution is causes a lot of greenhouse gases which is current a huge problem to Chicago right now.

Joseph Guan, BS, and Guohuo Li, MD, DrPH, Injury Mortality in Individuals with Autism

Food waste prevention and energy uses

Currently in the United States, a third of our available food is thrown away into landfills. Considering the excessive amount of land, water, energy, and labor put into crop cultivation in the United States, our waste habits will affect our quality of life. Not only do we contaminate land and water when growing food, but a third of those crops putrefy in the soil of more land. Food waste does not only pertain to local environmental pollution, but also on a global scale. As food decomposes, methane gas is released and contributes to climate change.

Effective change begins in cities, like Chicago, where a majority of the world’s population lives. One solution to prevent excessive waste is to redistribute unsold food. A non-for-profit organization based in Maryland called Food Network Recovery tracks unsold food at farmer’s markets and donates to food banks. If implemented in a city setting, this would positively affect areas in the city that do not have easy access to healthy food options or people who cannot afford fresh food. While this plan benefits the health of the city population, it also aid the city’s health as well.

As for existing waste, it is not completely useless. Instead of letting waste rot without a purpose, it can be used as biogas for energy. Restaurant grease traps, spoiled grocery store products, and cafeteria waste is mixed with cow manure in technology known as anaerobic digestion to collect methane. The methane is then connected to a gas pipeline to be used as energy for electricity. Currently, the largest biogas facility in North America, produces over 50 megawatts of renewable natural gas. Waste is an inevitable issue when it comes to every civilization, but it is better to make make use out of every resource.

Blog 2

Gentrification and Green Infrastructure

The issue of gentrification is really crucial to public health in general and to the society at large. The sole goal of gentrification is to improve low-income to a high-income neighborhood. This ultimately isn’t a bad idea but many people see this as taking their culture and increasing the standard of living. Many communities are not aware of the impact this could be brought if sustainable energy is used in remodeling this places. The effect of green infrastructures would be of great benefit to the people. A way this could be implemented is by educating people in these communities about it. Gentrification doesn’t necessary have to be a bad thing once people see the good benefits in return. In a recent article on Green Capitalism, it says “Rather than pushing a vision of the green city that emphasizes “park space, waterfront cafes and LEED-certified buildings,” policies should explicitly work to create a “place in the ‘sustainable city’ for industrial uses and the working class.” This is a great idea, especially with all the bad press gentrification is getting and the health consequences of pushing people out of their neighborhood resulting in higher cost of living. This approach would prioritize infrastructural developments that improve energy efficiency, and air and water quality, while avoiding those that result in drastic increases in property values.

Implementing green infrastructures doesn’t have to result in higher rent payment but greener and cost effective buildings. The green infrastructures will include green roofs, bioswales, use of lights and so much more. This plan will be beneficial because many of the people from these communities get to still remain in their neighborhood but with greener structures which in return they save lots of money. Green infrastructures are needed in order to build our cities and also provide space for new technologies.