How Pennsylvania Health Department’s Cross-Sector Partnerships Are Strengthening Climate and Environmental Justice
February 06, 2024
For decades, Pennsylvania has worked across state government agencies on environmental justice issues. Pennsylvania has prioritized environmental justice due to the ongoing challenges of pollution and climate change faced in environmental justice areas. The state has the third most Superfund sites on EPA’s National Priorities List, and many of these sites are in low-income neighborhoods. Climate change is likely to exacerbate existing racial disparities across a broad range of health outcomes, including death, respiratory and heart disease, mental health, and heat-related illness, especially among infants and children of color.
In October 2021, the state formally established the Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ) and the Environmental Justice Interagency Council (EJIC). As the first EJIC member to develop an Environmental Justice Strategic Plan, other EJIC members are now using Pennsylvania's plan as a blueprint. The plan provides a framework for continuing and building on DOH’s efforts to address health disparities associated with environmental health hazards in vulnerable communities. The strategic plan integrates environmental justice into the DOH’s internal and external processes to prioritize the needs of residents living in Environmental Justice communities.