In late September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the launch of the Eco-Health Relationship Browser to the public. This online tool was developed by the EPA Sustainable and Healthy Communities (SHC) research program. The browser “illustrates the linkages between human health and ecosystem services—benefits supplied by Nature”.
The browser can be a valuable tool to better understand the services that our ecosystems provide to all humans as well as the effect the degradation and loss of these ecosystems will have on our lives. There are many obvious benefits, goods and processes that ecosystems provide, however there are also many of these that are hard to comprehend. This tool was designed to help with understanding all aspects of ecosystems.
The tool was developed using a number of peer-reviewed scientific studies. Over 300 of these papers are included on the site.
There are four ecosystem types included in the browser, Agro-Ecosystems, Forests, Urban Ecosystems and Wetlands. Under each ecosystem are links to the various services that ecosystem provides, including water regulation, air filtration, heat mitigation, engagement with nature, promotion of physical activity and water filtration. By clicking on each of these services, the user can learn what these services are and how they work in relation to the different types of ecosystems.
Finally, the browser shows how each ecosystem and ecosystem service affects various health outcomes. There a numerous health outcomes explored in the browser, including asthma, bronchitis, cancer, fatigue, heat stroke, longevity, kidney damage, mental health, obesity and various other subjects.
The browser can be useful in a number of ways, whether it be in the classroom or in a work environment. A link to the bibliography also provides a number of references used to create the browser, which can be utilized to obtain more detailed information if desired.
To check out the browser, click here.