Health and the Environment in North Carolina

Blog | September 18, 2018


This time of year, it’s hard not to think about the effect of the environment on the health of people. Fires have ravaged communities from Greece to California, while heat waves and tropical storms affect various parts of the country, and the impact of Hurricane Florence continues to be felt here in North Carolina. These events often lead to public conversations about the human toll of natural disasters as well as humans’ impact on the climate. In the latest issue of the North Carolina Medical Journal, contributors take a more micro approach, examining the impact of the air we breathe and the water we drink on the workings of our bodies.


North Carolina researchers and policymakers play a unique role in environmental health. The state is home to the National Institutes of Environmental Health, the air pollution research labs of the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, and RTI International all have units dedicated to studying and improving environmental health. Many North Carolina institutions are involved in a worldwide initiative to reduce the 12.6 million annual deaths caused by environmental impacts, primarily air pollution.


“We hope that North Carolina physicians, communities, and residents can work together to address these issues in our state, and that this volume of the NCMJ can contribute by providing information on the current status of the impact of the environment on our health,” write guest editors Dr. H. Kim Lyerly of Duke and David B. Peden of UNC.


Sponsored by Clean Air Carolina and the Duke University Environmental Health Scholars Program, the issue includes three original articles and a host of commentaries and sidebars covering everything from the impact of concentrated animal feeding operations on rural residents, to unexpected sources and effects of pollution, to local and statewide programs aimed at improving air and water quality.


Here’s what else to expect from the Environmental Health issue of the NCMJ:


Original Scientific Articles:

Climate Change and Public Health through the Lens of Rural, Eastern North Carolina by Gregory D. Kearney, Katherine Jones, Ronny A. Bell, Marian Swinker, and Thomas R. Allen

Mortality and Health Outcomes in North Carolina Communities Located in Close Proximity to Hog Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations by Julia Kravchenko, Sung Han Rhew, Igor Akushevich, Pankaj Agarwal, and H. Kim Lyerly

The Impact of Coal-Powered Electrical Plants and Coal Ash Impoundments on the Health of Residential Communities by Julia Kravchenko and H. Kim Lyerly



Commentaries and Sidebars:

Ambient Air Quality and Cardiovascular Health: Translation of Environmental Research for Public Health and Clinical Care by Wayne E. Cascio and Thomas C. Long

The Unexpected Health Effects of Air Pollution by David B. Peden

Safeguarding Children’s Health: Time to Enact a Health-Based Standard and Comprehensive Testing, Mitigation, and Communication Protocol for Lead in Drinking Water by Jennifer Hoponick Redmon, Jacqueline MacDonald Gibson, Anna M. Aceituno, Katherine P. Woodward, and Keith E. Levine

Emerging Contaminants and Environmental Health by A. Stanley Meiburg

On the Front Lines of Climate Health Effects in North Carolina by Lauren Thie and Kimberly Thigpen Tart

Heat Exposure and Health Impacts in North Carolina by Margaret Kovach Sugg

Connecting Environmental Justice and Community Health Hog Production in North Carolina by Virginia T. Guidry, Sarah M. Rhodes, Courtney Woods, Devon J. Hall, and Jessica L. Rinsky

The Health Impacts of Environmental Policy: The North Carolina Clean Smokestacks Act by Julia Kravchenko, H. Kim Lyerly, and William Ross

Clean Construction Practices at Hospitals Improve Public Health by Rachel McIntosh-Kastrinsky and Tom Zweng




Tar Heel Footprints in Health Care: Dr. Bob Parr Takes the Lead in Tracking Pollution by Rachel McIntosh-Kastrinsky

Philanthropy Profile: Protecting North Carolina’s Health by Investing in a Healthy Environment by June Blotnick

Running the Numbers: Trends in Lead Poisoning Prevention Data for Children Aged < 6 Years in North Carolina by Kim Angelon-Gaetz and Ann Newman Chelminski