Advertisement

Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 93, Supplement 1, pp S45–S51 | Cite as

Indicators of Environmental Health in the Urban Setting

  • Trevor Hancock
Article

Abstract

The North American population is approximately 80% urbanized and spends almost 90% of the time indoors. Accordingly, the built environment is the most important–one might almost say “natural” — human environment. Urban settlements incorporate within their boundaries natural ecosystems of plant and animal life (often highly adapted to the urban environment), and are in turn incorporated within wider bioregions and global ecosystems. But urban settlements are not just built and natural physical environments, they are social, economic, cultural and political environments; the whole constitutes an urban ecosystem. These ecosystems have profound implications for the physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual well-being of their human inhabitants, as well as for human beings remote from these urban ecosystems. Therefore, this paper discusses urban ecosystems and human health and presents a framework for indicators of environmental health in the urban setting based on such an understanding. The concepts of environmental viability, ecological sustainability, urban livability, community conviviality, social equity, and economic adequacy are discussed in relation to human health and are used to organize proposed candidate indicators for urban ecosystems and public health.

Résumé

En Amérique du Nord, environ 80 pour cent de la population vit en milieu urbain et passe presque 90 pour cent du temps à l’intérieur. En conséquence, le milieu bâti est le plus important environnement humain — on pourrait presque dire de lui qu’il est « naturel ». Les milieux urbains comprennent des écosystèmes naturels de plantes et d’animaux (souvent fortement adaptés à l’environnement urbain) et font aussi partie de plus grandes régions biogéographiques et d’écosystèmes planétaires. Cependant, de tels milieux sont non seulement des milieux bâtis et des environnements naturels et physiques, mais ils constituent aussi des milieux sociaux, économiques, culturels et politiques, dont l’ensemble forme un écosystème urbain. Ils sont intimement liés au bien-être physique, mental, socio-émotionnel et spirituel des habitants ainsi qu’à celui des humains qui vivent loin de ces milieux. L’auteur traite donc d’écosystèmes urbains et de santé humaine et présente un cadre pour des indicateurs de l’hygiène de l’environnement en milieu urbain qui est basé sur ces considérations. Il analyse les concepts de viabilité de l’environnement, d’écosystèmes durables, d’habitabilité des milieux bâtis, de convivialité des collectivités, d’équité sociale et de cadre économique adéquat en rapport avec la santé humaine et s’en sert pour organiser les indicateurs potentiels de santé publique dans des écosystèmes urbains.

References

  1. 1.
    Sweet L. Room to Live (IDRC Briefing #4) Ottawa: IDRC (undated).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Leech JA, Wilby K, McMullen E, Laporte K, et al. Canadian human time-activity pattern survey report and population surveyed. Chron Dis Can 1996;17(3–4):118–23.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    World Resources Institute. A Guide to World Resources 2000–2001: People and Ecosystems: The Fraying Web of Life. Washington, DC: WRI, 2000.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Hancock T. Urban Ecosystems and Human Health. A paper prepared for the Seminar on CIID-IDRC and Urban Development in Latin America, Montevideo, Uruguay, April 6–7, 2000. (http://www.idrc.ca/lacro/docs/conferencias/hancock.html)Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hancock T. Health, human development and the community ecosystem: Three ecological models. Health Prom Int 1993;8(1):41–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Hancock T, Labonte R, Edwards R. Indicators that Count: Population Health Indicators at the Community Level Toronto: Centre for Health Promotion, University of Toronto/Participaction, 1999.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Wigle D. Safe drinking water: A public health challenge. Chron Dis Can 1998;19(3).Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Davies K, Hancock T. The Health Implications of Global Change: A Canadian Perspective. A paper for the “Rio +5” Forum prepared for Environment Canada under the auspices of The Royal Society of Canada’s Canadian Global Change Program. Ottawa: The Royal Society of Canada, 1997.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Climate Change 1995: The Second Assessment Report, Volume 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    McMichael AJ, et al. Climate Change and Human Health. Geneva: WHO, 1996.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hancock T. Promoting health environmentally. In: Supportive Environments for Health Copenhagen. WHO Europe, 1992.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Putnam R. Making Democracy Work. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Labonte R. Population health and health promotion: What do we have to say to each other? Can J Public Health 1995;86(3):165–68.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Jacobs J. Cities and the Wealth of Nations. New York: Random House, 1984.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Redefining Progress. The Genuine Progress Indicator. San Francisco: Redefining Progress, 1994.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Eyles J, Furgal C. Indicators in environmental health: Identifying and selecting common sets. Can J Public Health 2002;93(Suppl.1):S62–S67.PubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Trevor Hancock
    • 1
  1. 1.Health Promotion ConsultantVictoriaCanada

Personalised recommendations