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Correlates of Health, Sustainability and Environmental Metrics for 50 of the Most Populous U.S. Cities
1 , 1 , 1 , 1 , 1 , 2 , * 1
1  National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, US Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, United States
2  National Center for Comupational Toxicology, US Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, United States

Published: 01 November 2011 by MDPI in The 1st World Sustainability Forum session Sustainability Assessment and Policies
Abstract: Health, socioeconomic, education, and environmental (e.g. air and water quality) indicators are often correlated and may serve as markers for other underlying community issues. These diverse measurements are usually not fully integrated and rarely evaluated in the context of sustainability metrics. We derived an integrated community health index (ICHI) for 50 of the most populous cities in the US using extant environmental, health and sustainability metrics and assessed relationships with sociodemographic measures. To derive the ICHI we used data from two sources: 1) SustainLane\'s ( 2008 report card on urban sustainability which includes metrics such as energy and climate change policy, metro street congestion, metro transit ridership, and natural disaster risk, and 2) Earth Day Network\'s ( Urban environmental report including a health metric which incorporates asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity rates; and three environmental variables a) toxics and waste b) air quality c) drinking and surface water quality. Using these metrics we developed three separate indicators for health, sustainability and environment for each city. The ICHI was created by averaging across these three indicators. We used data from the 2010 Census (median family income, % of persons below the poverty level, % with a high school degree, % with college degree, and racial diversity (% White, nonwhite Black, Asian, and Hispanic) to assess relationships between the ICHI and sociodemographic characteristics. We compare mean values for various demographic measures for those cities with the "best" integrated community health index (highest 25th percentile) with those cities in the lower 25th percentile using t-tests. Cities with the better ICHI demonstrated 1) a higher % of persons with health insurance (20.1 vs 13.4 %; p< 0.001), 2) a lower (better) green economy score (13.7 vs. 36.8; p< 0.00001), 3) a lower toxic and waste score (2.4 vs.3.5; p< 0.001) and 4) a higher % of persons with college degrees (38.7 vs. 28.2%; p< .005). Comparing cites with lower percentages of individuals below the poverty level (highest 25th percentile) with those cities in the lowest 25thpercentile demonstrated 1) a lower score for toxic and waste (2.85 vs. 3.48; p
Keywords: community, health, sustainability assessment
Comments on this paper
Martha Harnly
Scoring Methodology
I would like to see more on the scoring criteria and methods. This would be an interesting study to try and replicate elsewhere. Without knowledge of how the scores were created, it will be an impossible study to replicate.

Yvan Dutil
Causes or consequence
I share the same concerns as stated in the previous comment about the construction of the scoring system. Also, I am wondering is the link between the two variables is causal or accidental.

If I live in an industrial town, I expect more pollution and lower wage that an university town. This as noting to do with the economic impact of the environment. Quite the opposite.

A Granger causality test would be welcome here.