Christian Long

Bill Davenhall: Your Health Depends on Where You Live

In TED Talks on April 10, 2010 at 9:55 am

Reflection by BETH A.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Bill Davenhall:  Your Health Depends on Where You Live

Remember those long, obnoxious forms that you fill out in the doctor’s office that asks question pertaining to your health? Family medical history, and allergies are usually the predominant ones, but what about your location? What if one of the questions was about the place, or places, that you have spent much of your time. Whether it be growing up, or you current residence, your geographic location has a major effect on your health.

“Geo-medicine”, it is called, the medicine of our geography. The reason for this new idea coming into play is because of the buzz about pollution and global warming. Davenhall describes his first 19 years of his life being spent in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Then, he moved to the Midwest, in Louisville, Kentucky, and then finally ended up in Los Angelos, California.

Geo-medicine, I predict, will become a very dominating factor in the doctor’s office soon. High pollution areas, such as Pittsburgh and New York City, are very dense population wise, and very industrialized. Pollutants in the air can cause many problems, including cancer and immune diseases. Not only can pollutants cause these problems, they can also speed up an occurrence of pre-existing conditions that you may never have known about. I believe that the doctor’s office should ask these questions, and perhaps this will allow a few extra years for someone. So, as Davenhall asks, “Where do you live, where do you work and where do you spend all of your time? And where do you expose yourselves to risks that maybe perhaps you don’t even see?” Well, for me, I’ve spent my life in the same are, I work as a student at the same school since I was three, and I spend most of my time at home or at school.

Right now, cell phone companies and the EPA are teaming up to be able to track your location and the EPA will show you a map of toxic release inventories around your area. Now, I wasn’t quite sure what a ‘toxic release inventory’ (TRI) is when I first watched this video. After using a search engine, I found out, here, that TRI is a database of information on 650 potentially toxic chemicals emitted by thousands of manufacturing industries and businesses and by fossil-fuel power plants (those that burn coal or oil). Annually, these facilities are required to report what chemicals they used to the EPA. Below, is a map showing the TRI of the eastern part of the United States. The more purple and blue “blobs” you see, the more chemicals are being emitted. (citation)

Now, I’m not going to preach about how if you live in these areas that you should relocate to cleaner air, I just completely agree with Davenhall.

I think that doctors should ask about patient’s living history, and I think that we should educate doctors on Geo-medicine. This study is ground-breaking, and this can allow physicians to better understand their patients problem. Maybe, eventually, Geo-medicine will be nationally known and accepted. I feel as if my eyes have been opened with a new way or reason as to why we get sick, when there is literally no other explanation.

In the end, I believe Jack Lord was right when he said, “Geography is destiny in medicine” which was in the end of the Dartmouth Atlas of Healthcare. Geography is the destiny of what physicians need to know and study, and perhaps even prevent future diseases for posterity.

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