Las Vegas Sun

July 30, 2014

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Letter: Health is central to sustainability, too

Although I appreciate the Las Vegas Sun's Oct. 29 story about UNLV's urban sustainability conference, the reporters appeared to focus on energy and water conservation. At the heart of all sustainability efforts is human health.

In addition to "environmentalists, academics and public employees," there were speakers on the daunting human health issues facing Nevadans. We don't have a sustainable environment if there aren't enough health professionals to provide first -trimester prenatal care, for example, or adequate care for our residents with mental health problems who now clog our emergency departments because there are no places to send them.

The built environment has a negative effect on human health when it precludes the ability of residents to walk and congregate or exposes its children to asthma-inducing air pollution. Our urban environment is not sustainable if we fail to educate the next generation.

Finally, the sustainability of Las Vegas is threatened if its population is too ill to work or contribute to the economy. We must have a much broader view of sustainability for health than whether or not a building is certified as energy - efficient or the landscaping uses grass.

Nancy Nivison Menzel, Las Vegas

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