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In this module, the following topics will be covered: 1) definition of public health, 2) public health impacts of non-sustainable development, 3) key public health impacts of climate change.

Learning objectives

After reading this module, students should be able to

  • understand what public health is
  • recognize public health impacts of non-sustainable development
  • identify key public health impacts of climate change


“Much discussion about sustainability treats the economy, livelihoods, environmental conditions, our cities and infrastructure, and social relations as if they were ends in themselves; as if they are the reason we seek sustainability. Yet their prime value is as the foundations upon which our longer-term health and survival depend.” ( McMichael, 2006 )

Ecological sustainability is more than just continuing the resource flows of the natural world to sustain the economic machine, while maintaining diversity of species and ecosystems. It is also about sustaining the vast support systems for health and life which could be considered the real bottom line of sustainability. Before examining the public health effects of non-sustainable development, we should define public health.

  • The website for UIC’s School of Public Health says “we are passionate about improving the health and well-being of the people of Chicago, the state of Illinois, the nation and the world.”
  • The Illinois Department of Public Health is responsible for protecting the state's 12.4 million residents, as well as countless visitors, through the prevention and control of disease and injury.”
  • The New Zealand Ministry of Health defines it as “the science and art of promoting health, preventing disease and prolonging life through organized efforts of society.”
  • The National Resources Defense Council an NGO devoted to environmental action, states that public health is “the health or physical well-being of a whole community.”

Impacts of non-sustainable development

We have built our communities in ways that are unsustainable from many aspects. Not only does development create urban sprawl, impact land use, and fuel consumption, we can identify negative health consequences related to these development trends.


If our communities are not walkable or bikeable, we need to drive to schools, shops, parks, entertainment, play dates, etc. Thus we become more sedentary. A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of overall mortality (2 to 3-fold), cardiovascular disease (3 to 5-fold), and some types of cancer, including colon and breast cancer. The effect of low physical fitness is comparable to that of hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, and even smoking ( Wei et al., 1999 ; Blair et al., 1996 ).

Economic segregation

Walkable and safe communities provide sidewalks, bike paths, proximity, and connections to community services such as grocery stores, schools, health care, parks, and entertainment. Community design that creates a segregated housing environment with only expensive housing and no affordable housing segregates people by socio-economic level (i.e. poor from non-poor) and this generally leads to segregation by race. Lack of physical activity will occur in neighborhoods with no good green and safe recreational sites. If we have poor public transit systems partly due to lack of density (only more expensive, low-density housing) and our love of the automobile, then we have increased emissions that contribute to global warming.

Questions & Answers

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Sustainability: a comprehensive foundation. OpenStax CNX. Nov 11, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11325/1.43
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