SHAKING THE TREE
The Budget & Ecological Crisis
Edward S. Herman
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
Same-Sex Marriage And AIDS
The Road to Marriage Equality
Violence in Mexico
Beyond the Tea Party
Resisting Resource Colonialism
Housing and Health
Emerging Labor Responses
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Exploring the Link Between Housing and Health
Despite some efforts made by the
In 1842, Edwin Chadwick established an association between appalling living conditions and poor health. Nineteenth century physician-activist Rudolph Virchow recognized the link between rising rates of infectious disease and crowded, poorly maintained housing. In the absence of diagnostic tools and effective treatments for rampant infectious diseases, many of the advances in health of the 19th and early 20th century were a direct result of improvements in housing, sanitation, and water quality. The Great Depression and the post-World War II era brought increased interest in housing because of the massive influx of people moving to cities in search of jobs.
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for health…including food, clothing, housing and medical care.” The Housing Act of 1949 reflected the desire of the
Despite legislative efforts to address housing inequities, a shortage of affordable housing and homelessness remains rampant, and are important contributors to poor health. Over 7 percent of persons living in the
Consequences of Substandard Housing
Environmental Injustice: Affordable housing shortages and discriminatory housing practices plague many American communities. Low-income housing is frequently substandard, does not meet city inspection requirements, and is characterized by conditions that contribute to poor indoor air quality and adverse health. Such substandard accommodations are disproportionately concentrated in lower-income communities and communities of color. Segregation by income and race limit one’s access to grocery stores, neighborhood parks, and even medications.
Polluting industries are more frequently located in and around poor communities and communities of color, a phenomenon known as environmental injustice or environmental racism. Due to excessive exposure to air and water pollution, such communities bear a higher burden of many diseases. One study found that bad housing and poor neighborhood conditions in African-American communities in St. Louis, Missouri were associated with a 2.5 times increase in the odds of developing diabetes. In
Substandard Housing and Poor Health: Housing is an important social determinant of health not only because it provides safe shelter from the outdoor environment and from crime victimization, but also because Americans spend much of their time indoors. For some, the quality of indoor air that they breathe may exert a greater influence on their health than the quality of air outdoors. The elderly, pregnant women, young children, and the chronically ill are most vulnerable to poor indoor air quality, since they spend the most time indoors. Fetuses and young children are more susceptible to toxic substances because they have greater pound-for-pound exposures; immature, porous blood brain barriers; lower levels of chemical binding proteins, allowing more chemicals to reach target organs; rapidly developing organs which are especially vulnerable to damage; under-developed systems to detoxify and excrete industrial chemicals; and a long future lifespan, which allows more time for adverse effects to arise. The elderly experience increased risks from toxin exposures since they suffer from more co-morbidities, and because the ability to eliminate toxins decreases with age. Those with chronic illnesses are at increased risk of asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations, and hospital admissions for acute coronary syndrome and cerebrovascular accidents consequent to exposure to environmental pollutants.
Other characteristics of substandard housing contribute to morbidity and mortality. For example, poor heating or cooling systems can contribute to hypothermia or hyperthermia, respectively, during ambient temperature extremes. The high death toll from the
Affordable Housing: Just as poor housing can cause illness, poor health can lead to poverty, which limits one’s housing options. Those who are physically or mentally ill may be disabled, unable to work, and dependent on supplemental security income. Furthermore, one-fourth of
A literature review conducted by the Center for Housing Policy found a clear impact of housing on health, education and economic development. By investing in affordable housing, cities and communities can move toward a more equitable society. Achieving equality in housing access, cost, neighborhood conditions, and indoor air quality will help to create a more environmentally just and healthier
Contributing to Allergies & Asthma
Substandard housing is intimately linked to asthma, the most common chronic disease of childhood. Over 4 million children in the
The following subsections describe the major indoor air contaminants frequently found in substandard housing that contribute to asthma and allergies, (especially in the pediatric population), along with interventions to minimize exposures.
Pets: Pets produce dander, feces, urine and saliva, all of which can cause allergic reactions and contribute to asthma. Pet allergies and asthma frequently co-exist. To reduce exposure to animal allergens, health care providers should recommend keeping animals out of the home or at least out of the bedroom, and removing carpeting and “animal furniture” if possible. Washing hands and clothes after contact, frequent vacuuming, and bathing pets weekly can help as well.
Dust Mites: Dust mites are 0.15 mm long relatives of spiders, feed off dead skin cells, and thrive under conditions of high humidity. Dust mites live in bedding, pillows, mattresses, upholstered furniture, carpets, and drapery. Dust mites not only exacerbate existing asthma, but may cause asthma to develop in the first place. Dust mite control involves encasing pillows and mattresses in allergen-impermeable covers, moving mattresses off the floor, washing bedding weekly in warm water, and air drying or using a clothes dryer to remove all moisture. Keeping humidity in homes below 50 percent, removing carpets from the bedroom, and avoiding upholstered furniture can help to minimize dust mite exposures. Childrens’ stuffed toys should be washed weekly in hot water and dried thoroughly.
Cockroaches: Cockroach allergens arise from saliva, feces, and dead body parts. Over 60 percent of asthmatic children are allergic to cockroaches. When such children suffer from asthma and are exposed to cockroaches, they tend to get more severe asthma attacks and miss more school days than those not exposed. Homes with no sign of living cockroaches still may have measurable amounts of cockroach allergens. Minimizing cockroach and other pest infestations requires fixing plumbing leaks and other moisture problems, removing piles of boxes and newspapers from the home, sealing all entry points, storing garbage in containers with secure lids, and removing trash daily. If possible, poison baits, boric acid, and insect traps should be used in lieu of pestcides.
Mold: Molds have been linked to respiratory complaints, asthma, allergies, and eczema. Mold grows anywhere excess moisture exists, including on wood surfaces, within insulation materials, beneath carpets, and under bathroom tiles. Three causes of excess moisture can lead to mold: overall high humidity, cold walls, and water infiltration. Improving ventilation and increasing air circulation (such as through the use of ceiling fans), along with using a dehumidifier, can decrease humidity and prevent mold growth. Leaks and spills should be completely dried within 24-48 hours. The Environmental Protection Agency recommends scrubbing hard surfaces with detergent and water and drying completely to remove mold, but absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet, may have to be thrown away.
Household Appliances: Many household heating appliances emit smoke and gases, including particulate matter, sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which cause lung irritation and increase one’s sensitivity to other asthma triggers. Heating systems should be inspected annually and chimneys kept clean. Avoid using wood-burning fire stoves for heating, as they can increase a number of toxic air pollutants. Kitchen exhaust fans help to dissipate smoke pollution and control excess humidity.
Volatile Organic Compounds: Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are found in a variety of household items, including cleaning supplies, fragrances, candles, and paint. Domestic exposure to VOCs may increase the risk of childhood asthma. Such items should be replaced by low VOC products. Consider a cotton ball soaked in vanilla as an air freshener, or heating water with lemon and cloves to provide a pleasant fragrance without emitting VOCs.
Other techniques to minimize indoor air pollutants include decreasing the amount of carpeting, vacuuming 1-2 times/week, drying after damp mopping, using air conditioners with clean filters, installing dehumidifiers in high-humidity areas, and using HEPA filters to reduce indoor allergens. Unfortunately, many of these interventions are expensive and require significant installation efforts or even structural changes.
Housing quality is an important social determinant of health and a marker of class- and race-based inequities in
Martin Donohoe MD is adjunct associate professor at the Cor
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; email@example.com; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; email@example.com; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; firstname.lastname@example.org http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: email@example.com; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; email@example.com.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; email@example.com; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: email@example.com; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.