Foundations Invest In Environmental Health
Author: Kathryn Sessions, Karla Fortunato, Philip R. S. Johnson, Amy Panek
Nearly one in four deaths globally are due to environmental hazards such as air and water pollution, according to the World Health Organization. However, knowledge about how the environment affects health and health equity outcomes has not been well integrated into decisions that shape the conditions in which people live, work, and play. To address this challenge, US foundations have invested millions of dollars to make it easier to incorporate environmental health information into decisions ranging from family purchases and governmental policy making to business, medical, and other professional practices. This article summarizes grant making aimed at improving environmental conditions to improve health and health equity outcomes. We provide examples of environmental health grants that focus on tools that the public, policy makers, and professionals can use in making decisions. We found that the investment in and attention to environmental factors, including in work addressing social determinants of health, have been insufficient to realize the potential for reducing negative environmental impacts on health and health disparities. We argue that the grant making highlighted here has increased knowledge that could enable more widespread consideration of environmental health in many decisions, with positive effects on health and health equity.