Urban Sprawl

October 1, 2015
By Colin Um  La Canada High School  Senior

By Colin Um
La Canada High School

Urban sprawl is the expansion of urban areas into rural areas.

According to the Public Health Report, urban sprawl has direct harmful effects on both city inhabitants and on the environment.

For example, urban sprawl leads to reliance on vehicles to commute to work. This leads to increased air pollution such as nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, and ozone, which harms the environment by contributing to global warming.

Another negative side effect is that more motor vehicle traffic leads to more motor vehicle accidents, leading to more deaths and injuries. Poor road design and planning can also increase the rate of accidents.

Urban sprawl is also correlated with sedentary lifestyle, because city inhabitants walk less but drive more.

Sedentary lifestyle leads to diseases such as cardiovascular disease and stroke, which decrease the quality of life for city inhabitants.

In addition, with increasing urban sprawl, the quality and quantity of the water supply is threatened. This is because when materials such as concrete are placed over land, less rainfall is absorbed into underground aquifers.

In addition, sprawl introduces pollution from factories. The heat island effect is increased by urban sprawl as people drive for longer distances, which leads to increased carbon dioxide production. Increased heat waves also increase the risk of conditions such as stroke and heat exhaustion. Longer commute times contribute to mental health issues such as road rage, caused by traffic congestion.

Moreover, it is statistically shown that minorities are the ones receiving the most harmful health effects of urban sprawl, contributing to environmental injustice.

The solutions to these problems include urban planning, from simple changes like planting more trees and building sidewalks to more significant overhauls such as designing mass transit systems.

Furthermore, urban designers should collaborate with health officials to ensure that their urban design does not negative health effects.

Community cohesiveness and tolerance can improve community morale and make residents more eager to improve their community environmentally, while preventing apathy towards environmental issues and thus worsening of environmental conditions. This cohesiveness allows for racial tolerance and small class divisions, which makes the residents more eager to work together to improve their community’s environment.

One must discover that the world one inhabits is special and must be respected through sustainability and environmental awareness. Promoting green business, conserving nature, and reducing emissions will create a better world for future generations to come.


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