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Healthy and Safe Community Environments

Health and wellness are influenced by the places in which people live, learn, work, and play. Communities, including homes, schools, public spaces, and work sites, can be transformed to support well-being and make healthy choices easy and affordable. Healthy and safe community environments include those with clean air and water, affordable and secure housing, sustainable and economically vital neighborhoods (e.g., efficient transportation, good schools), and supportive structures (e.g., violence free places to be active, access to affordable healthy foods, streetscapes designed to prevent injury).

  • Fact Sheet: Healthy and Safe Community Environments (PDF - 541 KB)

Download and print these recommendations: Healthy and Safe Community Environments (PDF – 257 KB)

Recommendations:

  1. Improve quality of air, land, and water.
  2. Design and promote affordable, accessible, safe, and healthy housing.
  3. Strengthen state, tribal, local, and territorial public health departments to provide essential services.
  4. Integrate health criteria into decision making, where appropriate, across multiple sectors.
  5. Enhance cross-sector collaboration in community planning and design to promote health and safety.
  6. Expand and increase access to information technology and integrated data systems to promote cross-sector information exchange.
  7. Identify and implement strategies that are proven to work and conduct research where evidence is lacking. 
  8. Maintain a skilled, cross-trained, and diverse prevention workforce.

What Can State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Governments Do? 

  • Facilitate collaboration among diverse sectors (e.g., planning, housing, transportation, energy, education, environmental regulation, agriculture, business associations, labor organizations, health and public health) when making decisions likely to have a significant effect on health.
  • Include health criteria as a component of decision making (e.g., policy making, land use and transportation planning).
  • Conduct comprehensive community health needs assessments and develop state and community health improvement plans.
  • Promote the use of interoperable systems to support data-driven prevention decisions and implement evidence-based prevention policies and programs, such as those listed in the Guide to Community Preventive Services.
  • Strengthen and enforce housing and sanitary code requirements and ensure rapid remediation or alternative housing options.
  • Participate in national voluntary accreditation of health departments.

What Can Businesses and Employers Do? 

  • Ensure that homes and workplaces are healthy, including eliminating safety hazards (e.g., trip hazards, unsafe stairs), ensuring that buildings are free of water intrusion, indoor environmental pollutants (e.g., radon, mold, tobacco smoke), and pests, and performing regular maintenance of heating and cooling systems.
  • Adopt practices to increase physical activity and reduce pollution (e.g., workplace flexibility, rideshare and vanpool programs, park-and-ride incentives, travel demand management initiatives, and telecommuting options).
  • Identify and implement green building siting, design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions that over time will improve the environment and health.
  • Adhere to best practices to promote safety and health, including participatory approaches to hazard identification and remediation as well as supervisory and worker training.

What Can Health Care Systems, Insurers, and Clinicians Do? 

  • Partner with state, tribal, local, and territorial governments, business leaders, and community-based organizations to conduct comprehensive community health needs assessments and develop community health improvement plans.
  • Support integration of prevention and public health skills into health care professional training and cross train health care practitioners to implement prevention strategies.
  • Increase the use of certified electronic health records to identify populations at risk and develop policies and programs.

What Can Early Learning Centers, Schools, Colleges, and Universities Do? 

  • Integrate appropriate core public health competencies into relevant curricula (e.g., nursing, medicine, dentistry, allied health, pharmacy, social work, education) and train professionals to collaborate across sectors to promote health and wellness.
  • Include training on assessing health impact within fields related to community planning and development (e.g., urban planning, architecture and design, transportation, civil engineering, agriculture) and encourage innovation in designing livable, sustainable communities.
  • Implement policies and practices that promote healthy and safe environments (e.g., improving indoor air quality; addressing mold problems; reducing exposure to pesticides and lead; ensuring that drinking water sources are free from bacteria and other toxins; implementing and enforcing tobacco free policies).

What Can Community, Non-Profit, and Faith-Based Organizations Do? 

  • Convene diverse partners and promote strong cross-sector participation in planning, implementing, and evaluating community health efforts.
  • Implement processes to ensure that people are actively engaged in decisions that affect health.

What Can Individuals and Families Do?  

  • Use alternative transportation (e.g., biking, walking, public transportation, car and vanpooling).
  • Conduct home assessments and modifications (e.g., installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, testing for lead, checking for mold and radon).
  • Purchase energy-efficient products, support local vendors, and recycle.