The Health Effects of Long-Term Exposure to Environment Stress in St. Louis

29 Nov

By Nae Lowery

Americans face many environmental stressors daily. Some in which everyone is exposed to, like legacy chemicals that grow in people’s bodies because, they are present throughout the world. Others are distinct to an individual’s location, like living next to a railroad track or surviving a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey or the California wildfires. Long-term exposure to stress, such as environmental stressors, causes far more health concerns than quick stress events.

“We had to evacuate, it was hard to see outside. It smelled like fire. Every day it was normal, from October to December it was windy. With the mixture of how dry and windy Cali was, a person could light a cigarette, throw it and start a fire”

Jai Smith, 27, experienced a plethora of wildfires in his city of Vacaville, California in 2019. Since then he has moved to St. Louis, MO, and says he has slight PTSD due to the unfortunate events that took place in 2019
Throughout Smith’s adult life he purchases estate. He equates the trauma of the wildfires to not wanting to buy or emotionally invest into valuable things.

In recent years the psychological effects of exposure to environmental stress is becoming increasingly apparent.

Individuals with trauma from environmental stress may experience feelings of weakness, helplessness and emotional distraught over potential to exposure of environmental stress.. This may be to the point where everyday choices can leave them feeling unsatisfied.

Environmental stress which can classify as climate anxiety, is influencing the career choices of youths, and their decision to have children in the future. This is led by concerns over the state of the environment decades down the road.

Among other things, environmental stress can be attributed to the constant and overwhelming media coverage of environmental destruction. One way to manage the trauma from environmental stress is to be mindful of one’s consumption of news and social media, as well as finding action-oriented community groups for support and ways to take collective action.

“I was invited to a bonfire after the wildfire in Napa, California. The bonfire was to heal the community and talk about the trauma. Many residents lost their lives due to late notice to evacuate. The rich white people in Humboldt County were also affected and it was complex experience to see a community once diverse to become unified due to loss.”

One Response to “The Health Effects of Long-Term Exposure to Environment Stress in St. Louis”

  1. naemonet December 6, 2021 at 2:09 pm #

    The abandoned houses, trash on sidewalks and untended nature is indication that this poor St. Louis environment has taken a toll on these residents.

    Future Brown speaks with me as she can relate to the issue of environmental stress.

    “Seeing vacant buildings and garbage on the streets and seeing people homeless and things like that. Really makes you think we’ll who am I? How am I different from them? How is there struggle relatable to mine? As a kid you don’t really know where to place all of those things, so it just ends up being a detriment to your mental health. Because your like am I not worthy of good healthy air? Am I not worthy of buildings that look like people should be living in them? It just changes the way you see the world.”

    “You know like the environment wears you down. The broken windows, abandoned homes. There is a sense of isolation. We are already black people in America. So just imagine being a black person in St. Louis.”

    I am Nae Lowery for the Webster Journal.

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