Environment
Section Newsletter
Fall 2005

Message from APHA Environment Section Chair

These past few weeks have been increasingly hard for all of us to watch unfold. The public health impacts of Hurricane Katrina's devastation will be seen for years to come. As public health professionals, it has been so tragic to witness such loss of life, spread of disease, and lack of fundamental resources like food and shelter. All of our hearts and prayers continue to go out to all of those directly and indirectly impacted by this horrific event. All year we have outreached with various community leaders in the New Orleans area, incorporating their involvement with the Section program and related events. We are also thinking of those colleagues and friends during this challenging time. By the time our Section e-newsletter comes out, we will know one way or the other what the official plans will be regarding the 2005 APHA Annual Meeting
[EDITOR NOTE: The Annual Meeting is now in Philadelphia, Dec, 10-14; dates mentioned below reflect the announcement made by APHA Sept. 6].
Although the hard work put into this year's program seems secondary as we all monitor the extent of relief efforts in the southern Gulf Coast states, I provide below highlights of the proposed Environment Program for your information.

The 2005 Environment Section Program is quite exciting and includes 32 sessions, five poster sessions, and a round table. The Annual Calver Lecture will be provided by two outstanding community leaders, Monique Harden and Willie Fontenot on Monday, Dec. 12. The Section Social will take place later that evening, and will be followed by a unique reception that will honor the contributions of 25 incredible community environmental justice advocates. Dr. Benjamin is expected to participate, and APHA as a whole has remained supportive.

The Membership Committee is organizing the 2nd (annual) New Member Orientation for Sunday Dec. 11 and has officially launched the Section's Mentor Program. Volunteers are being gathered from Section membership and will be paired with a new Section member during New Member Orientation.

The Student Involvement Committee fundraised additional funding for the Annual Section Student Scholarships from the University of Texas School of Public Health, University of Kentucky School of Public Health, and Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. The announcement for student scholarship applications was distributed widely; applications were due to the Student Involvement Committee by Sept. 12.

The Built Environment Institute, now in its third year, is offering the Built Environment Institute III: Identifying the Interconnectedness between Urban Form and Public Health Impact (Institute No. 2018.0). This half-day Continuing Education Institute Sunday, Dec. 11 will explore topics including how to integrate public health into local planning and community design; green building, holistic design and health; transportation infrastructure, design, emerging issues and health impact; and, urban forestry and the public health and economic advantages of green infrastructure in the built environment. A sit-down breakfast will be served to registered participants.

In Peace and Health,
Nse

Timelines for upcoming e-newsletters in 2006 (winter/spring-summer/fall editions)

Please send ideas for contributions, for the subsections below or other ones we are happy to create, by the appropriate deadlines for upcoming issues in 2006 of the APHA Environment Section e-newsletter to derek.g.shendell.96@alum.dartmouth.org, for Derek and Andrea Wiseman, Andrea.Wismann@UCHSC.edu, our new Secretary-elect. The deadlines will be publicized through the APHA monthly e-newsletters.

APHA Environment Section’s Membership Committee Report

Maintaining their dynamic start, the Membership Committee designed and field
tested a membership recruitment and retention survey; explored the possibility
of establishing a listserv; began work on the New Members Orientation;
periodically sent welcoming letters to new members and to lapsed members; and,
as a way to maintain contact with our secondary members, developed and sent
out an Environment Section update. APHA staff has shown its support of the
Environment Section, at every step of the way, by providing staff time and
computer expertise to ensure the success of several of these endeavors.

APHA has been especially helpful in the area of providing Section data, allowing
us to examine our Section’s membership. Please see the membership data below.

Nov. 2004--1,093
Dec. 2005--1,094
Jan. 2005--1,113
Feb. 2005--1,098
March 2005--1,101
April 2005--1,091
May 2005--1,058
June 2005--1,071

Although we are without more than one year of data, we have guessed that there
is a sharp rise in membership right before the Annual Meeting to enable
registering at the discounted members rate. Lastly, in spite of the sharp
plunge in membership between January and May, the actual numbers indicate only
a differential of 55 members. We are working on obtaining more than one year
of data so that we can verify our beliefs.

One of our most recent efforts has been that of the mentorship program. As a
pilot project, the mentor was to provide the mentee with guidance possibly in
the area(s) of career choices, how to navigate the Environment Section, and/or
tips to understanding the APHA Governance structure. Initially, the call went
out to the Environment Section Leadership, where more than 10 mentors have signed
up. However, others are welcomed and encouraged to sign up, as well.

We welcome Environment Section members to join us in undertaking any or all of our activities. Please contact us at des0@cdc.gov (Dorothy Stephens) and Stone.Susan@epamail.epa.gov (Susan Stone). We look forward to having you join us.

APHA Environment Section “Student Corner”

2005 Annual Meeting Student Poster Awards/Travel Scholarships

The Student Involvement Committee fundraised additional funding for the Annual Section Student Scholarships from the University of Texas School of Public Health, University of Kentucky School of Public Health, and Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University. The announcement for student scholarship applications was distributed widely; applications were due to the Student Involvement Committee by Sept. 12. Please visit the Student Poster Session at the 2005 Annual Meeting! Section leaders and other designees will review posters, ask students questions, and vote to determine award winners. The 10 finalists in 2004 did impressive work!


Solicitation for Future “Student Corner” contributions

We have initiated the “Student Corner” portion of our seasonal newsletter for use by and the benefit of our student members. We encourage student members to send text by the appropriate deadlines for upcoming issues of the APHA Environment Section e-newsletter to derek.g.shendell.96@alum.dartmouth.org. We encourage short update reports from our section’s Student Involvement Committee and news pertaining to the APHA Student Assembly (former Public Health Student Caucus) that is of interest to our section membership.
(Editor Note: The Student Involvement Committee Chair through fall 2005 is Sacoby Wilson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health, smwilson@email.unc.edu, but his successor will be identified shortly!)

APHA Annual Meeting 2005-- Program Update

The APHA 133rd Annual Meeting will now be held in Philadelphia from Saturday, Dec. 10 through Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2005. The theme is “Evidence-Based (Public Health) Policy and Practice.” Authors accepted to present at the Annual Meeting must become an APHA member as well as register for the Annual Meeting. For more details, please see http://www.apha.org and the current issues of The Nation’s Health and the American Journal of Public Health, as well as the Environment Section information below.

[EDITOR NOTE: PLEASE NOTE CHANGE IN LOCATION AND DATE DUE TO HURRICANE KATRINA’S DAMAGE TO GULF STATES, INCLUDING NEW ORLEANS. THE PROGRAM IN PHILADELPHIA IS FOR THE MOST PART THE SAME, EXCEPT FOR EXACT LOCATIONS OF SESSIONS, MEETINGS AND EVENTS AND A FEW ADDITIONAL SESSIONS TO BE DETERMINED BY APHA HEADQUARTERS. PLEASE SEE THE APHA WEB SITE AND FUTURE E-MAILS FOR FINAL DETAILS. THIS IS THE PROGRAM AS OF LATE AUGUST 2005.]

(B = business meeting, S = social, O = oral, P = poster, R = roundtable format):

Sunday
December 11
8:00–9:30 a.m.
B 202.0 Environment Section Business Meeting I
10:00–11:30 p.m.
B 218.0 Environment Section Business Meeting II
2:15–5:30 p.m. FIELD TRIP (?)
5:30–7:00 p.m. New Connections Reception

Monday
December 12
6:30–8:00 a.m.
B 305.0 Environment Section Business Meeting III
8:30–10:00 a.m.
O 3019.0 Making Health A Priority In Environmental Protection
O 3020.0 Tools for Assessing Exposure to Metals
O 3024.0 Environmental Health Epidemiology
O 3026.0 Evidence-Based Environmental Approaches to Improving Nutrition and Physical Activity: A Gumbo of Projects from New Orleans
O 3048.0 Communication Strategies for Worker Safety and Health
10:30-12:00 p.m.
O 3098.0 Building Diverse Constituencies and Environmental Public Health Tracking
O 3099.0 Practical Science: Why Community-Driven Research Initiatives Are More Effective
O 3100.0 Methods to Consider For An Effective Environmental Health Practice
O 3104.0 The Obesity Epidemic: Getting Beyond Individual Choice
O 3126.0 Evidence-Based Recommendations to Improve Immigrant Worker Health
O 3127.0 Health Care Workers: Safety and Health Hazards and Controls
12:30–2:00 P.M.
O 3185.0 Environment Section Homer N. Calver Award Luncheon
O 3186.0 Bioterrorism Preparedness: Epidemiology Training Needs in State and Local Health
O 3211.0 Occupational Respiratory Disease: Surveillance and Solutions
2:30–3:30 P.M
P 3231.0 Environmental Section Student Poster Award Session
P 3232.0 Pathways Of Environmental Exposure
P 3233.0 Health Investigations And Assessments Across The Map
P 3229.0 APHA Student Assembly Poster Session I
P 3245.1 Assessing Health Factors and Impacts
2:30–4:00 P.M
O 3273.0 Healthier Meat, Milk, and Families: Getting Beneficial Fats from Sustainable, Less Toxic Sources
O Health At The Border
O Bioterrorism: In Rural Communities and Family Preparedness
O Health and Public Health in Vietnam I
4:30–6:00 p.m.
O 3362.0 Asthma: Environmental Triggers And Lessons Learned
O Community Health Assessment: Methods And Applications
O Neurotoxicants and Children's Health: The Interplay of Policy, Economics, Research and Education
O From a Level Playing Field to a Healthy One: Environmental and Health Protection in the Context of North American Free Trade – Challenges and Opportunities
O Health and Public Health in Vietnam II
6:30–8:00 p.m.
S 340.0 Environment Section Social Hour

Tuesday
December 13
8:30–10:00 a.m.
O 4020.0 Reaching Out Of The Box: The Collaboration of Environmental Health Programs With Communities
O Building Environmental Capacity: From Automotive Repair Shops to Vector Control
O 4022.0 Manipulating Evidence: Safeguarding the Integrity of Science
O Evidence of the Environments Relationship to Health
O The Social Environment of Older Adults
O Nail Salon Workers: Hazards and Controls
12:30–1:30 p.m.
P 4086.0 WHEN Environmental Health Occurs Poster Session
P Communities Working Together for Asthma Prevention and Improved Health Awareness
12:30–2:00 p.m.
O 4119.0 Built Environment Institute I: Improving Health by Fixing Our Everyday World - Built Environment Approaches to Preventing the Leading Causes of Death
O Defending Public Health: The Real Science of Vinyl
O Nutrition and Food Safety Beyond Bacteria: Toxicants in the Food Chain
O Strategies for Integrating Environmental Health Into Nursing Education and Public Health Nursing
2:30–3:30 p.m.
The Synergism of Environment and Health
2:30–4:00 p.m.
RT 4215.0 Built Environment Institute Roundtable: Physical and Social Environment's Impact on Health
O Community Strategies To Address Environmental Health
O 4217.0 Effectiveness of Environmental Health Policy?
O Exposure Assessment And Compromised Air Quality
O Communities Addressing Asthma: Working to Improve the Environment and Patient Care
O Linking Occupational and Environmental Health Policy: A Public Health Framework
4:30-5:30 p.m.
P 4261.0 Studies in Environmental Health: New And Old Threats & Emerging Methods Using GIS
4:30–6:00 p.m.
O 4306.0 Built Environment Institute II: Assessing The Urban Built Environment To Promote Physical Activity & Health
O Environmental Justice: Recognizing The Problem To Forge A Solution
O On the Ground Experience
O Public Health Impact of International Trade Treaties
6:30–8:00 p.m.
B 422.0 Environment Section Business Meeting IV

Wednesday
December 14
8:30–9:30 a.m.
P 5004.0 Built Environment Institute Poster Session
P 5005.0 Evaluating Effectiveness of Environmental Health Policies and Programs
P 5006.0 How Environment Can Affect Health: A Selection of Health Outcomes
8:30–10:00 a.m.
O 5040.0 Cumulative Impacts and Risk in Environmental Justice Communities in the South
O 5041.0 Environmental Health Preparedness and Emergency Response
12:30-2:00 p.m.
O 5097.0 Built Environment Institute III: Building partnerships in land use and community design decision making
O 5098.0 What and Who's Evidence Makes for Sound Policy?
O 5099.0 Frameworks for Future Consideration
O 5100.0 Environmental and Health Concerns In Risk Communication
O 5128.0 Pesticide Surveillance
2:30–4:00 p.m.
O 5154.0 Translating Research Into Action
O 5155.0 Children: The First To Bear The Brunt Of Environmental Contamination
O 5149.0 Building Evidence for a Systems Approach to Improve Environments for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity
O 5181.0 Orchard Worker Surveillance
O 5186.0 Health Communication and Bioterrorism

[EDITOR NOTE: Aditi Vaidya will be our Sr. Program Planner for 2006, joined by our new Junior Program Planner, August Martin. Thanks, Robyn, for your efforts 2004-05!]

APHA 2005 Annual Meeting-- Environment Section Booth

Your assistance is needed in helping with the Environment Section's booth at this year's Annual Meeting. You can help in two ways: 1) volunteer 1-2 hours of your time to work at the booth during the Public Health Expo to distribute materials and answer questions that pertain to Section matters; and 2) identify and prepare materials for distribution at the meeting.

Please contact Jill Litt if you are interested in volunteering at the booth. Moreover, please forward any suggestions regarding materials you might like to distribute. Jill can be reached at (303) 315-7595 or by email at jill.litt@uchsc.edu.

Built Environment Institute at APHA Annual Meetings

[EDITOR NOTE: These are slightly modified re-printed sections of an update appearing in the last two issues of this e-news.]

Since 2002, the Built Environment Institute (BEI) has been in a process of rapid development. It was launched at the APHA 131st Annual Meeting held in San Francisco, Nov. 15 – 19, 2003 (BEI I). Four oral scientific sessions, one roundtable session, and a best practices field trip were offered. Twenty-five speakers participated. The BEI was again offered at this past year’s APHA 132nd Annual Meeting held in Washington, D.C., Nov. 7 – 10, 2004 (BEI II). Five oral scientific sessions, two roundtable sessions, three poster sessions, a co-sponsored best practices field trip, and the first meeting of the BEI FORUM were offered.

The BEI FORUM, which has received in-kind support from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, offered members the opportunity to meet, evaluate, and advance identified multidisciplinary strategic initiatives in addition to addressing BEI development issues. The BEI FORUM produced a number of recommendations for BEI development, which include advocacy, training, partnership development, project facilitation, agenda setting, pilot program development, and to continue in its role as meeting convener.

The BEI FORUM has been conceived as a venue through which many of the activities of the BEI are developed. The BEI FORUM will continue to provide a “think tank” environment to pursue core objectives, including building and supporting strategic partnerships among federal and non-federal agencies and a broad range of stakeholders that address research and action agendas characterizing the human health consequences of the built environment at multiple geographic levels.

Because of BEI’s growth and the demand for it to pursue a more expanded role, Environment Section leadership is evaluating the structure and activities of the BEI within the Section and its role within APHA. One outcome of this process is to offer the BEI as part of the APHA pre-meeting Continuing Education Institute (CEI) at this year’s APHA 133rd Annual Meeting (BEI III). The CEI format will allow BEI III to offer a more symposium-like program and increase its ability to address many of the recommendations being considered by Section Leadership and those proposed by the BEI FORUM. BEI III will also offer three oral scientific sessions in the general meeting as part of the Section’s Annual Meeting program.

Funding for BEI is provided by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the United States Environmental Protection Agency; The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation also provides in-kind support. The BEI is also grateful for administrative support provided by APHA.

Summaries of Other Upcoming or Recent Annual Meetings and Workshops

The Organizing Committee is pleased to invite researchers, policy-makers from industry, government agencies, academia, and local communities to participate in the 3rd International Conference on Safe Water, “Water for Life – Water for all People,” to be held at the Hilton San Diego Resort on Mission Bay, San Diego, Oct. 20-21, 2005.

Access to safe water is the biggest challenge facing the global community in the 21st century. Increasing populations, global conflicts, and natural disasters, such as the December 2004 Tsunami [EDITOR NOTE: and the August-September 2005 aftermath of Hurricane Katrina] have compounded existing problems in many rural and urban communities of the world. Solutions to these issues will be addressed at the 3rd International Conference on Safe Water in San Diego. Participating agencies and institutions from previous International Safe Water conferences include: Coca-Cola, Exxon Mobil, Natural Resources Conservation Services-United States Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Region IV), National Council for Science and the Environment, Global Institute for Energy and Environmental Systems, University of North Carolina, Charlotte, local farmers, community leaders, and faculty members from over 50 academic institutions. To ensure a broad input and real practical solutions from the participants, this conference will strongly encourage sponsorships from industries. Reports, statements, viewpoints, opinions, review articles and technical papers will be reviewed and published as part of the conference proceedings. Selected peer-reviewed articles will be published in a peer-review journal. Boreholes, Inc., a non-profit organization, whose mission is to ensure that rural communities of the world have access to safe drinking water, is the host of this international conference. For more information, please go to http://www.safewater2005.com or send an e-mail to: boreholes_safewater@yahoo.com.

Submitted by: Maisha Kambon, mik0@cdc.gov

-------

The Annual meeting of the International Society for Exposure Analysis will be meeting in Tucson, Ariz., from Oct. 30 through Nov. 3.

For details and the current agenda, please see the ISEA Web site, http://www.iseaweb.org. The conference will have several poster and oral sessions, including those that focus on environmental arsenic, pesticides, and community environmental exposures to criteria air pollutants like particles and ozone.

Submitted by: Natalie Freeman, drippond@earthlink.net

Natalie Freeman
drippond@earthlink.net



------

An Environmental Health Conference, “Out of Harm’s Way: Preventing Toxic Threats to Child Development in Michigan,” on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2005, at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Rackham Graduate School

This day-long conference for health professionals will address the role that environmental toxicants – including metals, solvents, pesticides and other substances – play in neurodevelopmental disorders. Clinical tools to recognize and mitigate, as well as to help to prevent, patient exposures to environmental pollutants will be provided. In addition, methods of integrating public health and clinical work with environmental advocacy will be discussed. Expert faculty will present the core curriculum. Local health professionals with expertise in children’s environmental health issues will present workshops or other sections of the program. This conference is sponsored by the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Michigan State Medical Society, Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility, American Association on Mental Retardation, the Ecology Center, and the Center for Children’s Health and Environment at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. For more information, please contact Lauren Zajac at the Ecology Center.

Lauren Zajac
lauren@ecocenter.org

------------

Summary about the Environmental Health Disparities Workshop, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, May 24-25, 2005

Community members, scientists, and policy-makers convened to discuss how environmental conditions may promote health disparities. Although research suggests that environmental conditions can cause gaps in illness between disadvantaged and advantaged groups, there is yet no systematic effort to track these conditions over time. Without attention to trends, it is difficult to assess whether progress is indeed being made by policy actions and regulations.

Participants of this workshop sought to build a base from which to set future tracking efforts. One unusual aspect of this workshop was the attention paid to broader social factors, including residential segregation, the distribution of power, the presence of institutionalized racism, and the production of health from multiple levels.

The tracking of environmental health disparities does not simply mean the tracking of mortality rates, specific illnesses or of particular environmental hazards (e.g. soil lead). Rather, participants suggested that the tracking of illness and physical and environmental toxins must occur alongside the tracking of social conditions, including residential segregation, poverty and social attitudes. Race/ethnicity and economic status are fundamental and critical factors to consider in tracking both physical and social environmental conditions.

Conference organizers Devon Payne-Sturges (APHA member, Environment Section) and Gilbert C. Gee (APHA member, Asian Pacific Islander Caucus) are preparing a report of the workshop’s proceedings alongside several scientific manuscripts, which will be made available.

CRECH and the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health joined the EPA and the National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) as co-sponsors of this workshop. In attendance were also representatives from Akwesasne Task Force on the Environment, the Coalition for West Oakland Revitalization, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Urban Habitat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NIEHS, the U.S. EPA and several state agencies and universities.

Devon Payne-Sturges
Payne-Sturges.Devon@epamail.epa.gov

Selected New Publications on Environmental Public Health Topics

We encourage other APHA Environment Section members to share information about new reports and books, available free on the Internet from their organizations, which have the potential to be of broad interest to Section members due to their multidisciplinary nature and/or focus on prevention (of exposures, disparities, morbidity, mortality, disability) or policy. However, due to space limitations, please note we publicize neither reports which are also available as archived peer-reviewed journal articles nor government reports and Web sites. Please send your ideas with descriptive text (250-300 words or less) by the appropriate deadlines for upcoming issues of the APHA Environment Section e-newsletter to derek.g.shendell.96@alum.dartmouth.org and Andrea.Wismann@UCHSC.edu.

Summary of New Available Reports

BEIR Report
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) issued on June 29, 2005 the latest report on radiation risk, the “BEIR VII report,” or Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation. The last report was in 1990, the “BEIR V report.” The BEIR’s series of reports are the most authoritative basis for radiation risk estimation and radiation protection regulations in the United States. The report estimates risks for cancer incidence rates as well as mortality and also provides detailed risk figures according to age of exposure for males and females by cancer type. Using cellular level studies, the report thoroughly reviewed available human and animal cancer data. The study found the following:

• The risks for all solid tumors, like lung, breast, and kidney, liver, and other solid tumors added together are almost 50 percent greater for women than men. Risks for specific cancers, including leukemia, are higher for men. See http://books.nap.edu/books/030909156X/html/28.html

• The cancer risk for children is even greater. For example, the same radiation in the first year of life for boys produces three to four times the cancer risk as exposure between ages of 20 and 50. See http://books.nap.edu/books/030909156X/html/550.html

• Female infants have almost double the risk as male infants.

• In animal studies, harm was found when parents were exposed to radiation. While there is no direct evidence of harm to human offspring, there is “…no reason to believe that humans would be immune to this sort of harm.”
(From page 20, prepublication copy, on the Web at http://books.nap.edu/books/0303909156X/html/20.html)

• The committee also noted that relatively high levels of radiation exposure increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, though it did not give specific risk estimates.

The BEIR VII report reaffirmed the conclusion of the prior report that every exposure to radiation produces a corresponding increase in cancer risk. Radiation exposures are cumulative over a lifetime.

For a complete copy go to http://books.nap.edu/books/030909156X/html/

The information is this article is from the report from the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), see http://IEER.org or contact Arjun Makhijani at Arjun@ieer.org.

Furthermore, IEER stated plutonium is threatening drinking water. In a letter to the U.S. EPA, they are requesting that the Drinking Water Standard for alpha-emitting, long-lived transuranic radionuclides be reduced from 15 picocuries per liter to 0.15 picocuries per liter. They are asking groups to sign onto the letter to U.S. EPA. For further information contact Arjun Makhijani at arjun@ieer.org

--Marica Marks
fragermark@mindspring.com

Methamphetamine Labs, How Do They Affect Public Health?

Methamphetamine laboratories (meth labs) are not laboratories in the traditional sense. These labs are illegal, clandestine setups with very crude and dangerous materials. Methamphetamine is a highly addictive, synthetic drug that is easy to obtain and widely abused throughout the United States. Meth, as it is commonly called, is also known as ice, crystal meth, crank, tina, crissy, speed, and hundreds of other street names. It is commonly sold in a white powder form that dissolves in water, but has also been distributed in colorful tablets or as crystals referred to as glass or ice. Methamphetamine can be smoked, snorted, injected or taken orally. [EDITOR NOTE: Thus, the issue is it is a chemical agent people are exposed to through multiple media and multiple pathways.] It stimulates the central nervous system and is psychologically addictive. Although methamphetamine has existed on the West Coast and in rural America for many years, how prevalent is it around the nation today? Meth lab incidents were reported in every state in 2004 except Connecticut and Rhode Island; numbers of incidents were especially high in the southeast.

For a complete copy of the article, based on her 2004 APHA presentation, please contact the author (see below).

Sheila Davidson Pressley
sheila.pressley@eku.edu

Summary of New Available Journal Papers in Environmental and Occupational Health

This was submitted to our e-newsletter from the Occupational Health Section’s editor (2003-05). This is a summary of a full paper to appear in late 2005 in the journal New Solutions. [EDITOR NOTE: Even though our policy is to only share new reports and papers not archived in peer-reviewed literature, given its thought-provoking content, the fact the journal version is not out yet, and our desire to promote discussion at the Annual Meeting across the Environment and Occupational Health Sections, this summary is included.]
Please contact Karla for citation/re-print information.

“Are Separate Standards for Occupational and Environmental Exposures Good Public Health Policy?”
By Jean Rabovsky, PhD

Public health discussions generally consider workers and community members as two distinct exposure groups. One explanation may lie in the concept of a workplace that is physically isolated from the surrounding community. Regardless of the specific reason, heath assessments are applied to workers and community members in different ways. For the purpose of improved public health policy, a discussion among public health advocates is needed to determine if this distinction is appropriate.

Even with physically bounded workplaces, e.g., factories and underground mines, exposures to toxic agents are not confined to interior spaces. Manufacturing plants produce emissions that are released to the outside of the facilities. Mining operations result in tailings that are stored above ground ,and toxic dusts can be carried to the household after the work shift.

Physically unbounded workplaces add to the problem. Pesticide drift from fields to residential areas occurs during the application of agricultural chemicals. In addition, exposure to farm workers living in adjacent communities may continue after cessation of the workday. This person, who is defined as a worker during the shift, is then defined as a community member after the shift. In the meantime, the extended exposure may result in incomplete clearance of the toxin and cause the worker to start the next shift with a toxic load.

Simultaneous exposures occur in non-agricultural outdoor environments. In Brownfield clean-up and road building and repair activities, an important issue is the placement of the "fence line" in order to determine the point beyond which a health assessment is not needed for the exposed worker. Yet beyond the "fence line" are people who live nearby or who travel in close proximity to the sites. Concerns have been expressed about the adverse health effects experienced by soldiers exposed to toxic agents during the Vietnam and Iraq wars, but the civilian populations in those countries continue to be exposed to the same agents after cessation of hostilities.

The overlapping exposures experienced by workers and community members have implications for the use of protective standards. Occupational standards tend to be higher than environmental standards, based in part on the assumption that exposure duration and frequency are less for the worker than for the community member. The occupational standard, based on an eight-hour work-day, may underestimate the exposure frequency of farm workers who remain in the fields for long hours during planting/harvest season or of industrial workers who work long hours during heavy production times.

The use of distinct occupational and environmental standards also requires a definition of work. Work is generally considered an activity that takes place away from the home, and this definition requires some thought. Scenarios exist where work takes place within the home environment. One example is work in the visual arts, where toxic agents are a part of the materials. The identification of domestic work also needs discussion. In some cultures, domestic activity, carried out in close contact with the ambient environment, has been considered by some authors as an occupation, and occupational standards have been applied to evaluate the potential for adverse health effects. Within more industrialized cultures, people who are hired to perform domestic or maintenance activities in someone else's home are considered workers. This definition, however, is not applied to the person who carries out the same activity within her/his own domicile. Under the conditions of this scenario, different standards will be applied to different people, who are exposed under the same conditions in the same place.

The stated purpose of this article is to initiate a discussion on the ramifications of a strict separation between occupational and environmental exposures and standards. The issues are not easy to resolve. However, by focusing on some specific points or questions, a beginning can be made towards a more equitable public health policy for all populations. For example, is it appropriate to permit higher exposures to workers than to community members? What are the assumptions that are used for the analyses of occupational exposures and development of occupational standards? When public health advocates, representing different constituencies, come together to address these issues, progress can be made towards enhanced public health policies for all exposure populations.

Summary of Newspaper Article Related to 2005 Calver Award/Lecture Recipients

The following article, by Ellen B. Meacham--only beginning of text is provided here--in late summer 2005 highlighted six community-based professionals in the state of Louisiana and their long-term, exemplary efforts for preserving and protecting the environment and the health of their communities. For the full story, please go to:
http://2theadvocate.com/stories/080705/fea_peo001.shtml#

”Pick any metaphor for persistence you want: Water dripping on a stone, a 1,000-mile journey that begins with one step or even that old ant with the rubber tree plant.
Any one of them could apply to a handful of local people who have spent decades fighting for a cleaner Louisiana.

So what motivates people like Baton Rouge's Willie Fontenot, Marylee Orr, Nancy Roberts, Florence Robinson and Kathy Wascom or Wilma Subra of New Iberia to continue the fight?

Though their stories are different, they share a deep love for their home, families who inspired them, a willingness to celebrate small victories while working for long-term change and an ability to focus on what needs to be done today.

…”

APHA Environment Section Leadership Calls

Upcoming APHA Environment Section leadership calls are on the third Thursday of each month, at 3 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Therefore, the remaining calls this fall are Sept. 15, Oct. 20, and Dec. 15. In addition, there will be four business meetings during the 2005 APHA Annual Meeting. Everyone is invited to participate!

Please e-mail our current Section chair, Nsedu Obot Witherspoon, at nobot@cehn.org, to be on her e-mail list to receive each call’s agenda and dial-in information.

APHA Environment Section Leadership

This is a list of Environment Section officers, and Section subcommittees, with e-mail contact information.

Chair = Nse Obot Witherspoon, MPH, nobot@cehn.org

Chair-elect = Jill S. Litt, PhD, jill.litt@uchsc.edu

[EDITOR NOTE: Rebecca Head, PhD, DABT is new Chair-elect 2006-07 after 2005 Annual Meeting. Rebecca_Head@monroemi.org ]

Secretary = Derek G. Shendell, DEnv, MPH, derek.g.shendell.96@alum.dartmouth.org

Secretary-elect (starting winter 2005-06) = Andrea Wiseman, MPH, Andrea.Wismann@UCHSC.edu

Immediate Past Chair = Allen Dearry, PhD, dearry@niehs.nih.gov

Section councilors = Michael Reiss; Marni Rosen; Neal Rosenblatt, MS; Peter Ashley; Patricia Elliot, JD, MPH; Devon Payne-Sturges, DrPH, MS, MEngs; also, Amy Kyle and Robin Lee were elected this summer, to start winter 2005-06.

Governing Council representatives = Heidi Klein, MPH; David Wallinga, MD; Susan West Marmagas, MPH; Beth Resnick, MPH; also, John Balbus, MD, MPH, and Derek Shendell, DEnv, MPH, were elected this summer, to start winter 2005-06.

Policy Committee Chair = John Balbus, MD, MPH

(EDITOR NOTE: Pages 29-30 of the December 2004 / January 2005 issue of The Nation’s Health summarized the 20 policies approved at the 2004 APHA Annual Meeting; several are directly or indirectly related to environmental health sciences and policy.)