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Health equity cannot be achieved by medical care alone. Social and political factors greatly impact the health of communities, including the environments where they live, work, and play.

Young Black woman student hangs a poster that says "there is no planet B"

Many communities shoulder the undue burden of environmental injustices — pollution, natural disasters, infectious diseases, violence, and more. Effective interventions must be developed through diverse multisector partnerships and be reflected in policies and structures that can create real change. 

Our Approach

As part of the our commitment to engage diverse perspectives and sectors, the AAMC Center for Health Justice convened the Multisector Partner Group, a team of leaders from in and outside health care and academic medicine, and identified environmental justice as one of the most pressing health equity issues facing people across the U.S. — and the newest focus area of the center. The center and Multisector Partner Group developed a working definition of environmental justice to guide the center’s program and research activity:

Communities made marginalized — particularly communities of color, Indigenous communities, people with disabilities, and low-income communities — are more likely to be exposed to and harmed by environmental hazards. These hazards can be chemical (e.g., pesticides, toxic waste, lead in paint), physical (e.g., floods, noise pollution, drought, injuries), biological (e.g., molds, allergies, epidemics) or psychosocial (e.g., stress, violence).1 

This unjust exposure to environmental hazards gets in the way of the health and the long-term well-being of individuals and families living in these communities across both rural and urban settings — in every U.S. region, state, and local jurisdiction. 

Environmental justice “embraces the principle that all people and communities have a right to equal protection and equal enforcement of environmental laws and regulations”2 and demands the meaningful involvement of all people in the development, implementation and enforcement of such laws and regulations. Environmental justice also requires “changing unjust structural conditions deeply ingrained in our built environment and social and economic systems.3” 

In 2023 and beyond, the Center for Health Justice will launch programs, conduct research, and develop expertise to serve the health equity community working to address environmental injustice. Subscribe to the Center for Health Justice newsletter to receive updates on this and other initiatives and resources.

Five diverse adults and one child walk side by side through a field.

Community Voices for Action

The AAMC Center for Health Justice is working with collaborators to tell their communities' environmental justice stories through video, photography, story slams, and story maps. By sharing their stories, others can learn from their experiences, for their own work.

Learn More About Storytelling

Center for Health Justice Submits Environmental Justice Comments to the White House and NIH

Two comment letters shaped by AAMC CHARGE members' expertise recommend strategies for advancing environmental justice on the federal level.

Read the Letters
Network Focused on Community-Driven Climate Solutions Announces Members and Strategic Partners. National Academy of Medicine Climate Communities Network. nam.edu/CCN

The Center for Health Justice Joins NAM Climate Communities Network As A Strategic Partner

The network will be a platform for communities disproportionately impacted by climate change to co-design solutions to climate-related health inequities.

Meet the Partners
Anthony Nicome, MHS

Meet Our Environmental Justice Fellow Anthony Nicome, MHS

Anthony is the inaugural health justice fellow with the AAMC Center for Health Justice, focusing on environmental justice. Prior to coming to the AAMC, Anthony served the public as an environmental justice coordinator at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) where he worked with communities to help protect public health and the environment.

Meet Anthony

United States Environmental Protection Agency. Environmental Justice. Sept 2022. https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice.

Bullard R. About Environmental Justice. 2018. https://drrobertbullard.com.

3American Public Health Association. Addressing Environmental Justice to Achieve Health Equity. Nov 2019. https://uat.apha.org/policies-and-advocacy/public-health-policy-statements/policy- database/2020/01/14/addressing-environmental-justice-to-achieve-health-equity.