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  • Writer's pictureYouth Energy Squad

The Impact of COVID-19 on Environmental Health

People with underlying health conditions, including respiratory illnesses like asthma and chronic lung disease, are at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Many of these respiratory illnesses can be linked to environmental health.

The rate of asthma in adults is 29% higher in the City of Detroit than the rest of the state of Michigan (HHS) and "Anybody that has chronic lung disease, including asthma, would be more susceptible to getting any respiratory tract infection, including coronavirus," Dr. Marcus Zervos, division head of infectious diseases at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, said (NBC).

Environmental Justice definition: Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. This goal will be achieved when everyone enjoys:

  1. the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards,

  2. equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.


Goals: Age Group: 11-12

  • Learn about the impacts of COVID-19 on environmental health

  • Connect air pollution to human health and environmental justice

Supplies: None Time: 30 minutes



This lesson consists of a short video, an article, and reflection questions.

First, watch this short video on COVID-19 and air pollution:

Now, read this short article from Bridge Michigan:


Reflection Questions:

  • From the Bridge Michigan article above, what contributes to poor air quality in Detroit? Who is responsible for these issues?

  • Is the environment in Detroit unjust according to the definition of environmental justice?

  • How has air pollution impacted the health of Detroiters? How has COVID-19 impacted the health of Detroiters?

  • Is COVID-19 impacting Detroiters more often and in more severe ways than other Michiganders? Why?

  • What changes must be made to ensure environmental justice in Detroit? How can students participate in making these changes?

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