No one can deny the fact that the physical surroundings and living conditions in the inner city are quite different from other city areas.  The inner city is plagued by low levels of education, which in turn leads to low income jobs, has a high crime rate, and the quality of health of for inner dwellers is often worse than those who live in suburbia or other city areas.  No expert needs to be cited here because regrettably, this is all common knowledge.

What may not be common knowledge is that urban settlements are human ecosystems (Chircop 136).  It is important to recognize that human ecosystems exist within larger natural ecosystems, and that human health ultimately depends on ecosystem health.  The distribution of health can be visualized in a map as one of geographical inequality between and within urban areas.  Furthermore, studies show that health is related to a combination of factors in the physical as well as the social environment (Ellen and Turner 1997).

Examples in physical environment include poor urban planning and inadequate housing that can lead to a variety of health concerns that include depression, aggressive behavior, asthma, obesity, heart disease and stressors on the immune system.  Housing disrepair is disproportionately higher in poor neighborhoods, can lead to exposure to lead, pests and air pollution as well as an increase of injuries (Chircop 136).  The following are also associated with urban neighborhoods of low-income housing:  increased stressed, fear of personal safety, feelings of anger, hopelessness and frustration, and feelings of shame, lack of control and stigmatization.

The information here provided shows there are environmental health inequalities in urban settings; however, do the inequalities point to environmental racism?  Policies can help change some of the inequalities.  Better urban development, equal access to health care, safe housing conditions – theoretically there are laws mandating all of these.  But, how well are they enforced?  If one were to inspect various housing projects, the answer is:  not at all.  Whether there is an inability or unwillingness to uphold housing laws, deplorable conditions are still prevalent.  One cannot help wondering if this is indicative of a mindset; a mindset that says that for inner city dwelling (where the population is mostly comprised of ethnic minorities) certain conditions should apply.  Lack of education, high unemployment and high crime rate may merit/justify the living conditions.

Works Cited:

Chicrop, A.  (2008).  An ecofeminist conceptual framework to explore gendered environmental health inequities in urban setting and to inform health public policy.  Nursing Inquiry, 15(2), 135-147.

Ellen, I.G. and Turner, M.A. 1997.  Does neighborhood matter? Assessing recent evidence.  Housing Policy Debate (8), 833-66.