High Alert Institute



Social Determinants of Health: 21st Century Focus

by | Aug 31, 2022

What are Social Determinants of Health (SDoH), and why should small and mid-sized business owners be concerned about them? SDoH refer to non-medical factors that impact overall health. The leading SDoHs, according to a landmark World Health Organization (WHO) report, are noise pollution, poor air quality, and poor water quality

Climate Change and Social Determinants of Health DO, in fact, impact business owners! Rising global temperatures have many detrimental effects on employees’ health, and so does indoor air quality. Governmental agencies like the EPA and others, are driving changes that WILL affect business owners and their bottom lines. Like it or not, these changes ARE coming, so isn’t it better to be proactive and ahead of the curve, then be reactionary and have to scramble to comply with new regulations later on? 

Climate Change Affects Businesses!

While debate continues to surround the specifics of Climate Change, there is medical and scientific consensus that these changes not only are occurring but in fact are progressing. For instance, wind speeds are increasing, and global temperatures are rising.

Much more than fodder for scientific journals, Climate Change is having a major impact on businesses. First, rising global temperatures have a detrimental effect on employees’ health. Second, increasing temperature extremes and higher levels of allergens mean that workers will spend more and more time indoors

Detrimental Effect on Employee Health

Rising global temperatures have many detrimental effects on employees’ health. Increasing temps have been demonstrated to increase levels of stress, as well as rates of aggression, bullying, verbal abuse, and even workplace violence. Studies in several urban areas found that for every 2-degree rise in average yearly temperature, the rates of homicides, assaults, and suicides rose by 3%. Interestingly, these increases were mitigated by indoor environmental temperature and humidity control. 

Need Increasing, but also Cost

In other words, while rising temperatures pose numerous health concerns, business owners can lessen their effects through greater control of indoor temperatures and humidity in the workplace. That’s the good news. That bad part is the cost of cooling indoor spaces also will rise.

This is where a SMART ventilation controller comes in by not only minimizing, but actually decreasing these costs. A SMART controller saves energy (and in turn money) by “banking” air, as but one example. For instance, let’s say the set point of the HVAC system is 78, but the outside temperature is 75 or even 70, which allows the indoor temp to drop to 76. This means cooler rooms will be at 73 degrees and even warmer rooms will be 78. 

Since the HVAC does not come on until 79 degrees, the fan will circulate the “banked” cool air and thus skip compressor cycles. The point is this: Fewer compressor cycles (by banking cool air) is more energy efficient, which saves up to 30% on heating and cooling costs.

Additional Time Indoors Means IAQ Becoming More and More Important

As noted, with increasing temperature extremes and higher levels of allergens, people will spend more and more time indoors. This isn’t a good thing because living or working in confined quarters increases exposure to illness and contributes to poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). And remember that poor IAQ is one of the leading SDoHs that was mentioned at the beginning of this article!

Reducing the risks of poor IAQ is crucial because contaminants such as radon, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and other pollutants can build up indoors, leading to potentially serious health problems such as asthma. In addition, substances such as asbestos and radon do not cause immediate symptoms but can lead to cancer after many years of exposure.

And those aren’t the only ill effects of miserable IAQ. Poor air quality also increases blood pressure, risk of fatal heart attack, and stroke by increasing the body’s stress response (also known as “fight or flight” response). 

Again, this where a SMART ventilation controller comes in. By using a SMART controller to optimize air quality, business owners can reduce the stress level of employees by up to 14%. (And reducing stress, in turn, lessens the likelihood of serious health problems). IAQ is a year-round need, and it is especially important during the extreme temperature months of the summer and winter, when many of us spend more time indoors. 


In terms of overall health, healthcare leaders are increasingly recognizing that in order to deliver better health outcomes, social determinants must be addressed. Since healthcare outcomes and SDoH factors like air quality are interrelated in the workplace, these factors either already are, or will soon impact businesses’ bottom lines

Since it’s not a matter of “if” this will happen but “when”, the question becomes: What are business owners going to do about this dilemma? Protecting employees’ health by optimizing IAQ – and in turn saving 30% on HVAC energy costs – means that installing a SMART ventilation controller is indeed a “smart” decision.

Griffin Works offers Pawsitive Interactions with Service Dogs During Response Operations©, an audience-customized training that breaks down barriers by offering hands-on handling training and demonstrations with working service dogs for fire departments, EMS agencies, and public safety organizations.

Part of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium and home to the National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center, TEEX has been leading homeland security training since 1998. The major TEEX programs include fire and rescue, infrastructure and safety, law enforcement, economic and workforce development, and homeland security. As a member of The Texas A&M University System, TEEX is unique in its ability to access a broad range of emerging research and technical expertise. Beginning with course design and development all the way through hands-on instruction and national certification testing, TEEX delivers comprehensive training through both classroom and hands-on instruction and as online courses.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) was created by Congress in 2000 as part of the Children’s Health Act to raise the standard of care and increase access to services for children and families who experience or witness traumatic events. This unique network of child-serving professionals, caregivers and young adults, researchers, and national partners is committed to changing the course of children’s lives by improving their care and moving scientific gains quickly into practice across the U.S. The NCTSN is administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and coordinated by the UCLA-Duke University National Center for Child Traumatic Stress (NCCTS). 

The Emergency Management Institute (EMI) is part of the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The EMI provides national leadership in developing and delivering training to ensure that individuals and groups having key emergency management responsibilities possess the requisite skills to effectively perform their jobs.

The High Alert Institute maintains a list of reviewed courses provided by governments, universities and professional organizations. This list is geared towards the non-emergency management person who participates in disaster planning, preparedness, response, recovery or mitigation as part of their job responsibilities.

The High Alert Institute has partnered with Shutterstock to distribute stock images from the nature images donated by our supporters. For eligible stock images, Shutterstock will donate a portion of the royalty to the High Alert Institute. There is no cost to charitable organizations or to Shutterstock customers.

For eligible purchases through AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the High Alert Institute. There is no cost to charitable organizations or to AmazonSmile customers. All you need to do is push the SMILE NOW button and select to support THE HIGH ALERT INSTITUTE on AmazonSmile.

Koi need forever homes, too! For pond enthusiasts, freshwater exotic and ornamental fish may not be available through pet stores or rescues in their area. The High Alert Institute Aquatic Pet Shelter Rehoming Program will be happy to assist you in stocking your new pond or adding a new finned friend to your school. Coming soon – when you adopt a Koi from the High Alert Institute Aquatic Pet Shelter Rehoming Program, we can arrange for delivery to your door anywhere in the continental United States.

Have you always wanted a Koi pond but don’t have the space one? Sponsor a Koi in our community shelter pond and we send you photos of your sponsored animal. Coming soon are live Koi Cameras above and below the water to enjoy your sponsored Koi anytime.

Dumping of freshwater non-native species and exotic aquatic pets into wild habitats is a man-made disaster that is truly preventable. The Institute’s Aquatic Pet Welfare Partnership works to raise awareness and reduce the impact on healthy ecosystems through education, as well as rescue and rehoming. Joined by champions of animal welfare and environmental stewardship, this  association of aquatic pet rescue operations and aquatic pet shelters across the United States aims to save our finned friends and preserve our waterways together.

Want to share our cause with family, friends, and colleagues? Looking for a non-traditional way to celebrate a birthday or honor someone special? Support the Institute by starting your own Peer-to-Peer fundraising challenge! Let your contacts know why our mission is important to you and what they can do to support your cause. START YOUR OWN FUNDRAISER for the High Alert Institute.

From the staffing pool to the shelter ponds, from the boardroom to the classroom, and from reading the science to writing the analyses, High Alert Institute programs and services benefit from the experience, expertise, and generosity of our volunteers. Put your talents to use for good and to good use – VOLUNTEER TODAY.

Make your donation twice as nice by rehoming aquatic pets and providing a rehabilitation companion pet to a deserving person, family, or facility. Sponsor part or all of a Joy of Koi Program pond installation – complete with rehomed koi – and give the gifts of love and recovery.

Professional photographers, amateurs, and legal copywrite holders are all welcome to participate in the High Alert Institute Nature Photo Donation Program. Sales of the images benefit the Institute and donors are eligible for tax deductions equivalent to the fair market value of their photos. Landscapes, seascapes, animals, flowers – all may be accepted – whether new or vintage  images. People may be included in the photo but only if unidentifiable (i.e., blurred figures at a distance).

Did you know that unused patents and copyrights can be donated to charity? Intellectual Property (IP) just sitting on a shelf will lose value as it becomes obsolete. The High Alert Institute IP Donation Program seeks to rescue stranded, technology-related IP with the potential for development into marketable products. Once accepted by the program, the owner/inventor is eligible for a tax deduction equivalent to the fair market value of the IP. The Institute receives the patent licensing fees or revenue from the sale of the IP to businesses, helping us to fund our mission. In turn, businesses are able to advance their markets and create jobs for less money than starting a project from scratch.

Disasters are defined as situations in which needs exceed or overwhelm available resources. Some disasters affect an entire community, while other disasters impact individuals and families. Crises of physical or psychological health can be very personal disasters.
The therapeutic value of pets during illness, trauma, and recovery is well established. And Koi fish may be well suited for people who are not able to provide verbal pet commands or physically care for pets like dogs and cats. Koi ponds are also a source of beauty and peace, providing an ideal setting for quiet reflection or meditation.
We are working to partner with pond installers and aquatic pet rescues/shelters to offer free or reduced-cost ponds with rehomed Koi fish to people seeking this type of pet therapy.

Disasters disrupt life and impact our sense of personal, family, and community safety. Survivors and responders alike often are not aware of the emotional, psychological or spiritual challenges that they may face from disaster onset through recovery. With two decades of experience training responders and communities to prepare for the behavioral health aspects of disasters, we will continue to provide education and a curated list of resources to groups or individuals.

Non-medical factors that impact overall health are termed Social Determinants of Health or SDoH. Noise pollution, poor air quality, and poor water quality are three environmental factors known to have a strong link to overall health. And the same environmental factors that impact humans impact their pets and other animals in their care. We continue to assist in advocacy, education, and technology development to mitigate the impact of SDoH on humans and animals alike.

Our efforts in shelter and rescue are the main focus of our environmental stewardship, reducing the environmental impact of non-native aquatic animals being dumped into public waterways. The High Alert Institute also assists innovators with the design, development, and evaluation of green and renewable energy technologies. Reducing the carbon footprint associated with disaster preparedness, response, and recovery furthers our continued mission to mitigate risk and improve resilience.

We partner with public and private organizations, sharing resources and fostering partnerships to improve disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, and mitigation.

The High Alert Institute team has over a century of combined research experience in medical, nursing, behavioral health, and disaster sciences. Our team provides support to researchers and technology developers through comprehensive literature searches and reviews, as well as failure mode database searches and adjudicated reviews.

When disaster strikes, most aquatic pet owners have limited options to secure the safety of their pets. Sheltering in place may not be possible if there is no power to provide aeration and “pet-friendly” shelters do not include ponds or aquariums. Our goal is to provide an option for aquatic pet owners in need of rescue and shelter for their finned friends.

Our goal is to share our two decades of disaster readiness experience with animal welfare organizations, shelters, caretakers, and pet owners, as they implement contingency  plans for natural and manmade disasters.

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High Alert Institute

4800 Ben Hill Trail
Lake Wales, FL 33898
Office: 863.696.8090
FAX: 407.434.0804


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