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Section Newsletter
Winter 2005

Message from APHA Environment Section Chair Nsedu Obot Witherspoon

I am excited to have the honor of serving as Section Chair for an additional year! While we have seen a great deal of tragedy unfold over the last few weeks, it is my hope that we continue to remain motivated and focused on the amazingly valuable work that each of us contributes to the field of environmental public health protection each day. A large number of Section members have already begun to heavily engage themselves into various Committee work goals for the year. We appreciate the effort! I look forward to leading the APHA Environmental Health Section from the overall programmatic successes of 2004 into a new year of further Section organization and direction. As always, we hope you enjoy the Section Newsletters and the helpful information contained in each.

In Peace and Health,


Introducing Co-Editors and Timelines for 2005 E-Newsletters

Welcome to the winter 2005 edition of the APHA Environment Section Newsletter! For the next three years, your co-editors will be Derek G. Shendell (Section Secretary) and Rebecca Head.

Please send ideas for contributions, for the subsections below or other ones we are happy to create, by the appropriate deadlines for upcoming issues of the APHA Environment Section e-newsletter (see below) to <> and <>.

Spring 2005 (May-August) –
By Thursday before Memorial Day weekend

Summer/Fall 2005 (August-October and up to Annual Meeting) –
By Thursday before Labor Day weekend, 2005

(Editors' Note: The winter 2005 newsletter is for January-April, 2005, but the process was not launched until mid-December 2004. We apologize for only allowing about a month to submit items for this newsletter.)

Membership Committee

With the inaugural New Members Orientation breakfast meeting at the 2004 APHA Annual Meeting, the Membership Committee started this year off with a bang and will continue forward to make it one of the best ever. Some of the things we hope to accomplish include, but are not limited to: (1) developing a secondary membership list, to keep our secondary members informed; (2) establishing a listserv for dynamic informational purposes; (3) refining the New Members Orientation for the 2005 APHA Annual Meeting; and, (4) exploring the possibility of conducting a membership survey.

To this end, we have already met with APHA to discuss our activities, scheduled our first membership committee meeting, have refined our letters to new and lapsed members, and developed a new letter for secondary members.

We welcome Environment Section members to join us in undertaking any or all of our activities. Please contact us at <> (Dorothy Stephens) and <> (Susan Stone). We look forward to having you join us.

APHA Environment Section “Student Corner”

2004 Annual Meeting Student Poster Award Winners

The winners of the 2004 APHA Environmental Section Student Poster Awards were:

1st Place:
Melissa Slotnick
University of Michigan, School of Public Health,
Department of Environmental Health Sciences

2nd Place:
Mary Elizabeth O'Neil
Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health,
Division of Environmental Health Sciences

3rd Place: Brettania Walker
The George Washington University, School of Public Health

2004 Annual Meeting Student Travel Scholarship Winners

Student Scholarships to cover or defray the cost of travel and/or registration for the 2004 APHA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., were awarded to the following individuals
(listed alphabetically, not by award amount):

Kathryn Alcantar
Audrey DeNazelle
Kelly Ho
Marcus Rountree
Nakia Clemmons
Ayesha Bashir
Helena Chapman
Jessica Nelson
Deirdra Forte
Lauran Zajac
Dana Thomas
Paula Stigler
Kimberley McGee
Vamsi Vasireddy
Manuel Jaramillo
Andrea Wismann
Sabre Watkins
Kai Johnson
Dawn Braswell
Yolanda Sanchez
Danielle Spurlock
Jazzmin Turner

"Reprint" of thank-you note

Our Section Chair received the following gracious thank-you note from one of the student travel/registration scholarship recipients. We decided to share it with everyone.
Editors note: we reproduced this from the originally mailed letter, so any bold type was originated by Chapman for emphasis.)

“I would like to send my appreciation for your financial support on the American Public Health Association (APHA) annual conference in November 2004. Your support, together with the Environment Section’s compassion and support for graduate students, makes my trip more affordable.

It is truly an honor to accept the 2004 APHA Environment Section Student Scholarship as a fellow graduate student and researcher with interests in environmental health factors and epidemiology. I am extremely excited that the conference’s theme is ‘Public Health and the Environment’ so that the Environment Section may shine this year!

I look forward to presenting my research with other distinguished students and researchers and gaining insight about other public health disciplines. Public health is such a multidisciplinary field that we must learn to collaboratively work together so that we may reach optimal results. I am also excited to further network, which is an essential skill in the sustainability of research projects, and often, graduate careers.

I am honored to have participated in such a grand scholarship competition and to accept this scholarship award. It was and is truly an honor to be among like-minded researchers! As a collective group, we should applaud all students and researchers for our dedicated and scientific efforts! Kudos to all Section organizers, presenters and attendees!

Thank you for your time and interest in graduate students as individual scientists. I look forward to an outstanding conference and opportunity to network in November!

Sincerely yours,

Helena Chapman, BS; Department of Epidemiology and Health Policy Research, College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida”

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 (see above) to <> and <>. 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 is Sacoby Wilson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Public Health, <>.)

Built Environment Institute

The Built Environment Institute Considers an Expanded Role

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. More than sixty speakers presented papers over the course of BEI’s four-day program, and nearly 30 invited distinguished guests attended the BEI FORUM. (Editor’s Note: An article about the BEI II field trip to the Anacostia River waterfront and its surrounding neighborhoods appeared in the December 2004 / January 2005 issue of the APHA newspaper, The Nation’s Health, page 26.)

The BEI FORUM, which has received in-kind support from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), 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 to be held in New Orleans, Nov. 5-9, 2005 (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; RWJF also provides in-kind support. The BEI is also grateful for administrative support provided by the APHA.

2005 APHA Annual Meeting: Dates, Place, and Meeting Theme

The APHA 133rd Annual Meeting will be held in New Orleans from Nov. 5-9, 2005. The theme is “Evidence-Based (Public Health) Policy and Practice.” Abstracts for proposed sessions are due between by the end of January. Abstracts should be 250 words or less, and must include learning objectives. Abstracts must be submitted online through the abstract submission form found at <> or <>. Authors must provide complete and accurate contact information to be notified of abstract status. One does not have to be a member of APHA to submit an abstract. However, authors accepted to present at the Annual Meeting must become an APHA member as well as register for the Annual Meeting. The deadline for submission of abstracts ranges from Feb. 7-11, 2005, depending on the Section, SPIG or Caucus to which you wish to submit the abstract. For more details, please see <> and the current issue of The Nation’s Health, as well as the Environment Section information below.

2005 APHA Annual Meeting: Environment Section Needs Volunteer Abstract Reviewers by Jan. 31, 2005

We hope everyone is still engaged and excited about the recent APHA Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., this past November. The theme of “Public Health and the Environment” fell right in line with the goals of the Environment Section, and we learned a great deal, made new discoveries, and traded ideas with our peers regarding how we can advance the field of public health. We hope to continue the success of the 2004 Annual Meeting as we begin planning this year’s upcoming meeting.

This is a reminder (re: e-mail sent around the second week of January) that the Environment Section, as in past years, needs volunteers willing to review abstracts submitted for the APHA 2005 Annual Meeting! We appreciate your responses by Jan. 31, 2005. When replying to Aditi, whose e-mail appears below, please indicate which of this year’s topic tracks you are most interested in reviewing abstracts for:

1) The 2005 Built Environment Institute (BEI III);
2) Environmental Public Health (EH) - How (for example, EH skills and tools, biological monitoring of exposures, health tracking, epidemiology, risk communication);
3) EH - Who (for example, EH infrastructure and workforce, EH nursing, children’s EH, health disparities, Environmental Justice, collaborations, youth involvement);
4) EH – When: Now! (for example, policy; scientific integrity; hot topics related to contaminants, air, water, food, land/land use;
5) EH – Where (for example, local Louisiana issues, border issues, home, school, work, community, international/global, war).

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Thank you in advance for participating!

2005 Environment Section Program Planners,
Aditi Vaidya (
Robyn Gilden (

Selected New Books and Non-Profit Reports 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 (see above) to <> and <>.

(Editors' note: For this issue, in the article to follow, we summarize information received in December 2004 from one non-profit based in California.)

Summary of new available reports

The Prevention Institute (<>), a non-profit national center based in Oakland, Calif., that is dedicated to improving community health and well-being by building momentum for effective primary prevention, is pleased to announce the release of two new publications, described below. All of their “tools” can be accessed free of charge at: <>.

Cultivating Common Ground: Linking Health and Sustainable Agriculture

In the public debate of what can be done to address the growing rates of nutrition-related health conditions, considerations of agricultural practices and policy have largely been absent. Sustainable agriculture practices are rarely seen as viable solutions for improving nutrition and health. In fact, there are compelling reasons to link the health and sustainable agriculture sectors. Cultivating Common Ground delineates opportunities for creating a synergistic movement between health and sustainable agriculture, in order to strengthen the momentum for a just, sustainable health-promoting food system. Opportunities to positively impact agriculture, the environment and health make this collaboration not only promising, but essential. The newly released report, funded by the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation and Columbia Foundation, can be downloaded at: <>.

The Built Environment and Health: 11 Profiles of Neighborhood Transformation

There is growing recognition that the built environment – the physical structures and infrastructure of communities – plays a significant role in shaping our health. With support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Environmental Health, Prevention Institute profiled 11 projects across the country in predominantly low-income communities, where residents and practitioners from multiple sectors partnered to make neighborhood-level changes to the built environment. The profiles reveal how improvements to the built environment can positively influence the health of community residents. Taken more broadly, they demonstrate how improvements to the built environment have the potential to reduce health disparities. Read the inspiring stories of community perseverance and multi-sector partnerships at: <>.

To link directly to The Built Environment and Health:

To link directly to Cultivating Common Ground:

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, with the exception of January 2005 due to the President Inauguration. Therefore, the remaining calls this winter are Jan. 27, Feb.17, March 17, and April 21. Everyone is invited to participate! Please e-mail our Section chair, Nse Obot Witherspoon, at <>, to be on her e-mail list to receive each call’s agenda and dial-in information.

APHA Environment Section Leadership Mid-Year Meeting

Our mid-year meeting will be at APHA headquarters building in Washington, D.C., on April 6, 2005. Limited available conference call lines will be available; please e-mail our Section chair, Nse Obot Witherspoon, at <>. Further details and an agenda, including the portion available to conference call attendees (~two hours), will be distributed at a later date by Nse.

List of Section Officers, and Section subcommittees

Chair = Nse Obot Witherspoon, MPH,

Chair-elect = Jill S. Litt, PhD,

Secretary = Derek G. Shendell, DEnv, MPH,

Immediate Past Chair = Allen Dearry, PhD,

Section councilors = Michael Reiss; Marni Rosen; Neal Rosenblatt, MS; Peter Ashley; Patricia Elliot, JD, MPH; Devon Payne-Sturges, DrPH, MS, MEngs

Governing Council representatives = Heidi Klein, MPH; David Wallinga, MD; Susan West Marmagas, MPH; Beth Resnick, MPH

Policy Committee Chair = John Balbus, MD, MPH

(Editor's 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.)