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Authors @ Alden to feature Professor Michele Morrone’s book on environmental health

Published: March 25, 2021 Author: Morgan Spehar

Ohio University Libraries will virtually host Dr. Michele Morrone and Dr. Tiffany Arnold for a conversation about Morrone’s book, “Ailing in Place: Environmental Inequities and Health Disparities in Appalachia.” The conversation will take place on March 30 beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Microsoft Teams as part of the Libraries’ Authors @ Alden speaker series. 

Morrone is a professor of environmental health and the chair of the Department of Social and Public Health in the College of Health Sciences and Professions at Ohio University. She earned her doctorate in environmental planning from the Ohio State University and worked for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency before beginning her teaching career. 

“I came to Southeast Ohio more than 25 years ago as a regulator for the EPA and was surprised to see some basic sanitation issues that weren’t being addressed in the region,” Morrone said. 

Since then, she has dedicated her career to studying environmental health, which is the study of how the environment affects health. Environmental health is part of public health, but looks more specifically for causes of health issues related to environmental conditions such as water quality, food safety and diseases spread by insects.  Morrone’s latest book, “Ailing in Place,” takes an in-depth look at environmental health in Appalachia by focusing on those conditions that disproportionately affect people who live here.  

In the book, which was published in 2020 by the Ohio University Press, she explores issues such as the impacts of water quality, waste disposal and natural resource extraction on the health of people who live in Appalachian communities. Morrone said that most of the data about public health points to behavioral causes of health issues, but she looked at the “uncontrollable environmental factors” that are out of reach for many people to solve. 

“This involves asking a lot of questions,” she said. “Do people have access to clean drinking water? Do they have access to good wastewater management? Are there places to exercise? These are all basic environmental and health problems.”

For her Authors @ Alden talk, Morrone will be interviewed by Dr. Tiffany Arnold, assistant professor in the Department of Social and Public Health. Morrone is planning to focus on the connection between the environment and human health.

“If I have the opportunity, I will talk about some of the case studies [included in the book] and the way that I tried to weave the stories together. I have visited almost all the places that I talk about in the book, so I would like to discuss going to those places too,” she said. 

Morrone said that her talk should have a broad appeal, and that those who are interested in social justice and equity issues would especially find her book intriguing. Those interested in environmental issues and public health in general will also enjoy the talk. 

“I would like people to continue to question why people who live in Appalachia are less healthy than other people,” she said. “I want to expand the discussion and make people think, ‘What can we do about that?’” 

Watch Dr. Morrone’s Authors @ Alden talk here on March 30 at 3:30 p.m. To request accessibility accommodations for this event, contact Jen Harvey.