Message From the Chair
Your membership and contributions make our Section successful.
So what does the Section do for you and your work? Is the Section’s focus on traditional, more recent or emerging concerns? Yes, yes and yes -- all. The Section’s foundation encompasses traditional environmental and environmental health topics, such as clean air, water and soil along with how we address issues related to siting wells, septic systems and conducting food safety programs.
The following topic areas are often topic committees, and the names of the lead folks for each topic are included below. You can contact any of them about engaging in the developing work.
Environmental Health/EH Workforce (Pat Bohan & Sarah Kotchian) issues have been a longtime concern and are sneaking up on us as baby-boomers begin to retire. Between 2004-2012, 43 percent of the overall U.S. work force are eligible for retirement, and that certainly includes those in the EH eork force. Having criteria and other metrics toward training and assessing are critical – not to mention developing ways to encourage more undergrads and graduate students to major in EH.
More recent EH concerns include our promoting topic areas of the Built Environment/Smart Growth (Peter Ashley) toward good land-use planning for healthy communities to protect resources and promote active living via well-designed neighborhoods and social Environmental Justice (Liam O’Fallon & Sacoby Wilson) toward more participatory, healthier communities that addressing environmental public health disparities. EH-related model building code & standards, with an emphasis on the built environment, are the focus of the efforts of Jake Pauls & Sarah Mack.
Emerging issues include Climate Change (John Balbus & Kyle Kinner) toward mitigation and public health response and Healthy Food Systems (Roni Neff, Jill Litt & David Wallingwa) encompassing the complete environmental public health aspects related to food production, distribution & consumption. Of course, for those who have been working years on these topics, these are hardly “emerging.” Yet, many of us are now examining them more closely.
Are you interested in the nitty-gritty of the hows of the Section? Want to contribute and are looking for a more time-defined task? We are seeking volunteers to work on the following issues & General Committees: Awards, Budget & Fund-Raising, Communications (Newsletter & Webpage), Membership, Nominations and the 2011 Committee – planning for the environment section’s centennial year & celebration. Lead members also exist for each of these and would welcome your involvement. The Nominations Committee (jill.litt@UCHSC.edu) is also looking for members who want to run for Section positions – for Section Council; the offices of the chair, secretary, treasurer; and as Section representatives to APHA’s Governing Board. If interested, you can look to others in the Section for mentoring and advice. Please contact any of the members listed above or me about getting involved in any of the Topic or General Committees or other role within the Section, and you will be connected with the lead members and/or officers.
What of the APHA organization? Where do Environment Section priorities fit? Prominently!
- Environmental public health work, with support from two APHA staffers, includes topics of the built environment, climate change, environmental public health tracking, work force development and soon, healthy food systems. For more information, go to: http://www.apha.org/programs/additional/revitalizeenviro.htm.
- The 2008 Public Health Week Theme is "Climate Change: Our Health in Balance." http://www.apha.org/programs/healthweek/
- Additionally, Section members continue to play major appointed & elected roles in the organization of APHA.
In closing, I repeat my initial sentence: “Your membership and contributions make our Section successful.” Thank you for what you already give, and please consider joining one of the committees – your participation may well be the tipping point toward our group’s sustained success.
Rebecca A. Head, PhD, DABT
Environment Section Chair
Return to Top
Celebrate National Public Health Week 2008
"Climate Change: Our Health in the Balance"
The health effects of climate change will take center stage during National Public Health Week, April 7-13, 2008. As part of the weeklong observance, themed "Climate Change: Our Health in the Balance," APHA will lead the charge in helping people, communities and families recognize that adapting to climate change and mitigating its impact is critical not just for the health of our planet, but for the health of the people in our nation and around the world.
Changes in our climate are causing more severe weather events. Extreme weather conditions such as heat waves, high winds, snowstorms, floods and hurricanes have the potential to dramatically affect the health and safety of both individuals and our communities. Changing ecosystems allow for emerging or re-emerging infectious diseases such as dengue or malaria, which are changing the spectrum of disease risks affecting populations. In poorer parts of the world, drought and floods often force people to move away from lands no longer producing enough food, often resulting in hunger and malnutrition. Moreover, contaminated drinking water can result in outbreaks of diarrheal diseases, leading to dehydration or death.
Few Americans will ever see the melting Greenland ice cap up close, or interact with an arctic polar bear facing extinction as its habitat melts. But local public health professionals around the country increasingly will be dealing with the impacts of climate change on the ground, every day. Join APHA as we work to create a healthier planet. Visit the official National Public Health Week Web site at www.nphw.org to check out the climate change blog and brochure, sign up to be a National Public health Week partner, or add your week's event to the national calendar. For more information about National Public Health Week, contact email@example.com.
From the Environment Section
This year’s APHA Annual Meeting featured an inspiring level of interest and attention given to the connections between climate change and our health. Building on this momentum, APHA and its partners across the nation, including state and local health departments, have dedicated National Public Health Week — April 7–13, 2008 — to helping Americans make the connection between climate change and public health. The official title is "Climate Change: Our Health in the Balance."
In the months leading up to National Public Health Week, APHA will work with public health experts and policy-makers to develop a list of key recommendations for planning for and managing the health impacts of climate change. APHA will also highlight the innovative ways that individuals, families and communities around the country are addressing climate change, and the ways that policy-makers are moving forward with proposals that support healthy communities and environments.
Section members are encouraged to organize events in their own communities and organizations to help deliver the message nationwide that our health as a species is truly in the balance, and that the necessary urgent changes in our energy consumption patterns can deliver human health benefits at the same time they help avert serious and irreversible damage to the planet’s fragile ecosystems.
Visit www.nphw.org for more information, or sign up as a partner at www.nphw.org/nphw08/partners.cfm?fuseaction=apply. Be sure to check out the blog at www.nphw.blogspot.com/. Planning a National Public Health Week event? Submit it to the calendar at www.nphw.org/nphw08/calendar.cfm?fuseaction=submit.
By making climate change the theme for 2008, the public health community can ignite a major shift in how our society addresses this unprecedented challenge.
Return to Top
APHA Environment Section’s Committee Reports
Climate Change Committee
More than 20 Section members have volunteered to be part of the Section’s activities on climate change and health. Thus far, the activities of the committee have centered on next year’s Annual Meeting program and the planning for National Public Health Week. Committee members have helped to coordinate session proposals for the meeting in San Diego. With at least six very strong proposals submitted, the content on climate change for next year promises to be outstanding.
The theme for this year’s National Public Health Week (NPHW), which will take place April 7-13, is "Climate Change: Our Health in the Balance." The Section’s CC Committee is well-represented on APHA’s advisory committee for NPHW, which has held two conference calls with APHA staff so far to discuss some of the details of the plans. National Public Health Week will feature hundreds of local events sponsored by public health departments and other organizations throughout the country, and it will be capped by the release of a white paper on climate change and health, which will offer concrete recommendations for the nation and the public health community to ensure we meet the urgent challenges of climate change in as healthy a way as possible. A breakout session at the National Council for Science and the Environment meeting this month developed some potential recommendations to feed into APHA’s process of meetings and consensus development for the final white paper.
Once planning for next year’s Annual Meeting is complete, the committee will convene to discuss what the Section can do within and beyond the context of NPHW. All members who are interested in participating should contact committee chair John Balbus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some seven policies relevant to our section were approved at last year’s Annual Meeting, including a comprehensive policy paper on agricultural and nutritional issues, a revised policy on climate change, a call to restructure the Toxic Substances Control Act, and an expanded global ban on the use of lead. Section members are reminded that the calendar on the policy process moves quickly, with proposals for new policies due on Feb. 18 (see the full calendar at http://www.apha.org/advocacy/policy/Policycalendar/). The Governing Council has identified policy gaps for 2008 on the APHA Web site, with two of particular relevance to our section: Clean Water Act and asbestos disease compensation. Of course, anyone is welcome to submit a policy resolution on any subject. Anyone interested in participating in the Policy Committee or seeking assistance in the development of a policy resolution should contact John Balbus at email@example.com.
Return to Top
Proposed APHA Forum on Built Environment Standards & Law
As part of APHA’s effort to enhance crosscutting activity among various APHA sections, work is under way to establish a new Forum on Built Environment Standards and Law. APHA requires that at least 75 APHA members indicate an interest in being a member of such a Forum and, already, nearly this number have signed on, especially among those attending the APHA Annual Meeting in November. Other interested members of the Environment Section are now specifically invited to add their names in support of this new Forum as they are counted on for significant input to the work of the new Forum. As we all appreciate, health is profoundly affected by one's environment, and the design, construction and use of built environments in the form of dwellings and many other facilities are impacted by laws and standards taking many forms.
Membership in a forum neither affects one's section membership(s) nor involves any cost. Interested members are asked to contact Forum organizer Jake Pauls at firstname.lastname@example.org to be put on the list of interested APHA members. Simply send an e-mail to email@example.com with “Forum” in the subject line and, in the body of the e-mail, your full name and your state of residence/work (as shown in your APHA membership file). Later this year you will have the opportunity to comment on the application being submitted to APHA, so please take this first step to make sure that the interests of environmental health are well represented in this new Forum.
Return to Top
Interested in getting more involved with the Environment Section? One way is to run for office! Members can easily review the vacancies and access the nomination form on the APHA Web site: http://www.apha.org/membergroups/sections/elections/.
Criteria & Due Date
Candidates must be a current member of APHA and the Environment Section by Feb. 1, 2008 to be eligible to run for the position. Nomination forms (candidate statements) must be submitted to APHA in late February 2008. Please contact Nominations Chair Jill Litt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Return to Top
Environmental Laboratory Program
The Association of Public Health Laboratories Environmental Laboratory Program:
First Year Success
Pamela Bernard MA, Environmental Laboratory Program Manager
In the spring of 2007, the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) Environmental Laboratory Program convened the first-ever State Environmental Laboratory Conference during the APHL Annual Meeting. With well over 350 participants, environmental laboratory issues and concerns were shared with a diverse audience. Some of the meeting highlights included sessions on State Environmental Laboratory Profiles and Accreditation, Laboratories Critical to the Nation’s Security and Protection of Public Health and the Environment, Managing Environmental and Biomonitoring Data for Chemical Terrorism Response, and Planning for Radiological Emergencies -- The View from the Lab. Participants received up-to-date information from the Environmental Protection Agency on many of their important and upcoming environmental laboratory programs, i.e., the Water Laboratory Alliance (WLA), Regional Drinking Water Lab Response Plans, Electronic Data Exchange programs (SEDD) Staged Electronic Data Deliverables, and the Environmental Laboratory Response Network (eLRN).
The State Environmental Laboratory Conference was a major success for APHL, whose Environmental Laboratory Program is still in its infancy. In 2006 APHL was awarded a cooperative agreement with the EPA to serve as a point of contact between the agency and state environmental laboratories. To this end, APHL serves as a home base for state environmental laboratories and promotes the role of state environmental laboratories in research and development, evaluation and validation of technology and procedures. As part of this cooperative agreement APHL formed an Environmental Laboratory Subcommittee in May of 2006. One of the first duties of the Environmental Laboratory Subcommittee was to conduct the first-ever survey of state environmental laboratories to assess laboratory capability and capacity, identify needs and establish benchmarks for future comparison.
Issued in May 2007, the State Environmental Laboratories: Capability and Capacity survey results delineate the differences between state environmental laboratories and the need for more resources. Fifty-eight laboratories from over 37 states participated in the survey. Results indicate disparities in emergency preparedness, specifically chemical and radiological terrorism preparedness. Many laboratories lack the necessary instrumentation and training needed to respond to emergency scenarios. However, most laboratories have relationships with key federal agencies essential to communication efforts during an emergency scenario. The results of the survey on funding, instrumentation, data management, workforce, training, accreditation/certification, and relationships and communication serves as a starting point for the Environmental Laboratory Program at APHL to address the strengths and weakness of environmental laboratories.
With help from APHL’s National Laboratory Training Network (NLTN) and the EPA, and as a result of the survey, the Environmental Laboratory Program began efforts to expand training and educational opportunities for environmental laboratory personnel. Some of the recent and future projects include an August 2007 web cast educational on EPA’s Water Laboratory Alliance, a September 2007 week long Radioanalytical Training Course, and two workshops in October 2007 on Preventing Improper Environmental Laboratory Practices and Advanced Topics in Quality Assurance.
APHL has had a busy and exciting year expanding its Environmental Laboratory Program. On the horizon are many more activities and programs geared towards addressing the needs of state environmental laboratories. Support of EPA’s WLA and eLRN, technology transfer, laboratory capacity building, and enhanced communication efforts are just some of the future projects. The Second State Environmental Laboratory Conference will be held in St. Louis, MO May 18-21, 2008, more information is available at http://www.aphl.org/conferences/08Conferences/08AM/Pages/2008AnnualMeeting.aspx.
If the first year is any indication of the next, APHL is sure to roll up its sleeves and work towards promoting quality environmental laboratory practice.
Return to Top
Fellowship, Scholarship, Training and Awards
Nominations for Healthy Schools Heros
Do you know someone whose sense of responsibility, inspirational leadership and exemplary persistence and courage protects children from school hazards and unhealthy school conditions?
I created the Healthy Kids Healthy Schools Hero Award as an annual opportunity to remember the March 18, 1937 New London Texas School Explosion (http://www.NLSE.org) and to study its lessons.
By nominating a Healthy Kids Healthy Schools Hero you can help make March 18 an annual day dedicated to bringing the lessons of the 1937 Texas school exposion to our nation's schools and celebrating the heroes whose leadership saves children's lives.
The Hero Award is part of the campaign to promote citizen awareness and responsible leadership for chemical security by eliminating explosives and other hazards in today's schools. The story of the 1937 Texas school explosion needs to be part of our national legacy because more than 71 years later, too many children attend schools where explosives and other hazardous materials in labs, closets and storerooms and other safety code violations are routinely ignored.
Lessons Of History. In 1937, over 300 children died but no one was held responsible because the Court of Inquiry concluded that "school officials were just average individuals, ignorant or indifferent to the need for precautionary measures, where they cannot, in their lack of knowledge, visualize a danger or a hazard." (Court of Inquiry, 1937.)
The disaster resulted in a law requiring that a warning odor be added to natural gas, thus saving millions of lives all over the world. However, other important recommendations of the 1937 Court of Inquiry have yet to be implemented in most 21st century schools: 1) schools need technically trained administrators for modern school systems; 2) schools need to do rigid inspections and more widespread public education about avoiding and managing hazards; and 3) schools need a comprehensive, rational safety code.
Make 2008 a time to update your school's values and technical skills for 21st century citizens. Help move safety from the margins of school activity to the core of school culture and curriculum in science education, vocational education, occupational health and safety, community service, comprehensive school health and injury prevention, school security, emergency preparedness, environmental education, civic education, school maintenance and operations.
Nominations were due to email@example.com by Feb. 15, 2008. The Hero Awards will be distributed through major education, environment, health and safety organizations and networks in time for National Healthy Schools Day April 28, 2008 and related events and observances that promote child health and safety.
For more information on the lessons of the New London School Disaster and to help promote March 18 as National Healthy Schools Heroes Day contact Ellie Goldberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For examples of school activities, references and resources see: Strengthening the School's Response to Explosives in the RESOURCES section online at www.healthy-kids.info.
Nominations: Calver Award & the Damu Smith Environmental Achievement Award
Every year at the APHA Annual Meeting, the Environment Section recognizes two outstanding individuals for the Calver Award & the Damu Smith Environmental Achievement Award. And what are the criteria for each of these?
The Calver Award is bestowed upon a nationally known public health professional who has contributed significantly in preserving and protecting the environment and the health of their communities. The award is named for Homer Calver, a World War I medic, public health official, and environmental journalist. Calver was executive director of APHA and editor of its journal, the American Journal of Public Health. He also established and edited the Environmental News Digest. As a health officer in Winston-Salem, N.C., Calver brought the city through a diphtheria epidemic and secured a modern ordinance protecting the milk and food supply. Intrigued by European health exhibits he saw on a trip in 1930, he used APHA to promote American exhibits combining accurate health information with showmanship. One such exhibit, "The Transparent Man," was visited at the 1939 New York World's Fair by 12 million people, a record for a health exhibit that has yet to be broken. The Calver Award was established in 1970, the year Calver died (and the year Earth Day was first observed).
The newer Damu Smith Environmental Achievement Award, first awarded in 2007, honors an individual who has performed outstanding social, environmental & economic justice work in the diverse but intersecting fields of environmental justice, biodiversity conservation, citizen advocacy, indigenous rights, human rights and environmental health. Damu Smith, an internationally known D.C. peace activist who advocated for a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in the 1980s, fought chemical pollution on the Louisiana Gulf Coast in the 1990s and campaigned against the war in Iraq in the new century, worked to bridge communities and issues in order to make a positive difference in how we work together for a common good. One example of his good work was in 1999, when he, in a move that changed the face of the environmental movement, coordinated the largest environmental justice conference ever held, the historic National Emergency Gathering of Black Community Advocates for Environmental and Economic Justice. This gathering led to the formation of the National Black Environmental Justice Network, the first ever-national network of black environmental justice activists, of which Damu served as executive director.
Award nominations can be sent to Rebecca Head email@example.com; Leon Vinci firstname.lastname@example.org or Nsedu Obot Witherspoon email@example.com.
Return to Top
Policies & Healthy Schools
Claire Barnett, Executive Director, Healthy Schools Network, Inc.
Yes, 2007 was a momentous year for major policy reforms to protect children and promote healthier schools nationwide. The national Coalition for Healthier Schools (APHA is a founding participant), coordinated by Healthy Schools Network, is fostering policy initiatives such as healthy and high performance school design, requiring green cleaning products in schools, improving school siting laws, and building environmental public health services to protect children from exposures in schools, being adopted in the states and nationally.
The new High Performance Green Buildings Act of 2007, in the Energy Act passed by Congress and signed into law in December 2007 and shaped and supported by the Coalition, is a huge victory. Importantly, the law gives new authorizations to the U.S. Enivironmental Protection Agency -- to give grants to state agencies to create comprehensive plans on school environments, to create federal guidelines for the siting of schools, and, advised by CDC, to develop guidelines to promote children’s environmental health in schools.
Green Seal, the preeminent nonprofit third party certifier of industrial cleaning products used by large facilities such as schools and government agencies, has seen its standard embraced by schools and municipalities around the country. New York state passed the nation’s first law in 2005 requiring all public and private schools to use green cleaning products, then defined those as products certified by Green Seal or Terra Choice. Illinois passed a similar law in 2007, actively supported by the Illinois Healthy Schools Campaign. Similar initiatives are being taken up by NGO’s and states, as a way to promote healthier indoor environments and to promote the health of teachers and custodial workers who have high rates of occupational asthma.
To accelerate the adoption of green cleaning policies and practices, a National Collaborative Work Group on Green Cleaning is being coordinated by Healthy Schools Network, first, to participate with Green Seal in updating its ‘green’ criteria for evaluating products, and second, to develop an ‘industry-free, customizable training toolkit’ for use by agencies, unions, districts, and NGO’s. Now in field-testing, elements of the Collaborative’s “Cleaning for Health” toolkit were presented at EPA’s IAQ Tools for School Symposium, to state agencies in Florida, to districts and agencies across New England, and to the national Coalition for Healthier Schools. The information is already in demand in a dozen states.
In short, 2007 was a momentous year of root reforms that will yield long-term results that are truly protective of children.
For more information; Healthy Schools Network -- www.healthyschools.org ; for the National Coalition for Healthier Schools -- http://www.healthyschools.org/coalition.html ; for the Healthy and High Performance Schools Act -- http://www.healthyschools.org/documents/EnergyAct2007-HHPS_text.pdf ; and for Green Seal— www.greenseal.org .
Return to Top
Update from the National Library of Medicine, Division of Specialized Information Services
Information Resources from the National Library of Medicine's Division of Specialized Information Services
Colette Hochstein, DMD, MLS (Colette@nlm.nih.gov), Division of Specialized Information Services, NLM
The Division of Specialized Information Services (SIS, http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/) at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) creates information resources and services in toxicology, environmental health, chemistry, and HIV/AIDS. Another component of SIS, the Office of Outreach and Special Populations, seeks to improve access to quality and accurate health information by under-served and special populations. Many SIS products help to address the toxicology and environmental health information needs of the general public. NLM’s environmental health and toxicology resources include:
TOXNET® (http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/) is a Web-based collection of resources covering toxicology, chemical safety, environmental health and related areas. TOXNET can dynamically generate specific "multi-database" searches via simple Web links. Information about creating these links can be found in the TOXNET FAQ "How do I create a link to the results when I search all the databases in TOXNET?" (http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/toxnet_faq.html#searchall). Specific "chemical links" to records in a TOXNET database can also be created. For details, see the TOXNET FAQ "How do I create a link to a record in a TOXNET database?" (http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/toxnet_faq.html#recordlink). TOXNET can also be accessed from a Web browser on a PDA device with a network connection (http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/pda/).
The Household Products Database
The Household Products Database (http://householdproducts.nlm.nih.gov/) is a consumer guide that provides information on the potential health effects of chemicals contained in more than 7,000 common household products used inside and around the home.
This resource helps scientists and consumers learn about ingredients in brand-name products. It contains information about the chemicals contained in specific brands and in what percentage, which products contain specific chemicals, who manufactures a specific brand, how the manufacturer can be contacted, the potential adverse health effects (acute and chronic) of the ingredients in a specific brand, and other information that is available about such chemicals in the toxicology-related databases of the National Library of Medicine.
The record for each product shows the ingredients as reported in the manufacturer's Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and includes other information such as handling, disposal and health effects. For more technical information from other NLM resources, users can launch a search for a product or ingredient in NLM’s TOXNET® (http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov) from the "Product" page in the database. Users can also search NLM’s PubMed from the "Chemical Information Page" to find effects of the chemicals to humans in the published biomedical literature.
The Dietary Supplements Labels Database
The Dietary Supplements Labels Database (http://dietarysupplements.nlm.nih.gov/dietary/aboutUs.jsp) contains information on the ingredients of over 2,000 brands of dietary supplements sold in the United States. Information in the Dietary Supplements Labels Database (the database) is from a variety of publicly available sources including brand-specific labels and information from manufacturers' Web sites. The database consolidates and centralizes consumer-oriented information about dietary supplements that is available from many sources so that consumers can make informed decisions about supplements. It provides direct links to pertinent health information, fact sheets, research findings and on-going clinical studies at the National Institutes of Health.
The Dietary Supplements Labels Database provides information on the ingredients shown on labels of specific brands, which brands claim to contain specific chemical ingredients, what fraction of daily recommended nutrients is provided by a specific brand, inactive ingredients in each brand, which brands do not contain animal products, studies that indicate the proven medical benefits of specific ingredients, the toxicity of specific ingredients, who manufactures a specific brand and how they can be contacted, and what other information is available about chemicals in the toxicology-related databases of the National Library of Medicine. Users can also compare the amount of a specific nutrient between brands.
Tox Town (http://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov) is an interactive guide to commonly encountered toxic substances, your health and the environment. Tox Town helps users explore a town, city, farm, U.S.-Mexico border area or port community to identify common environmental hazards. It uses neighborhood in these settings, along with color, graphics, sounds and animation, to add interest to learning about connections between chemicals, the environment and the public’s health. Tox Town’s target audience is high school, college and graduate students, educators and the interested public.
Each neighborhood is toured by selecting “Location” or “Chemical” links. For example, a user can click on the hospital in the City scene for a list of chemicals that might be found in a hospital and a list of resources about environmental concerns for hospital patients and staff. A user can click on a chemical, like mercury, to see where it might be found in a neighborhood and to learn more about it. Cutaway views give an inside look at a school, a home, and other buildings for more detail.
Tox Town also offers some resources en español (http://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/espanol/).
TOXMAP (http://toxmap.nlm.nih.gov) is an interactive mapping site which helps users explore the geographic distribution of certain chemical releases, their relative amounts, and their trends over time. Its data is derived from the EPA's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) (http://www.epa.gov/tri/) and Superfund Programs (http://www.epa.gov/superfund/index.htm).
TOXMAP helps users create nationwide, regional, or local area maps showing where TRI chemicals are released on-site into the air, water, and ground. It also identifies the releasing facilities, color-codes release amounts for a single year or year range, and provides multi-year aggregate chemical release data and trends over time, starting with 1987.
TOXMAP can be also used to find information about Environmental Protection Agency Superfund sites and substances. The Superfund program (http://www.epa.gov/superfund/index.htm) is part of a federal government effort to clean up land in the United States that has been contaminated by hazardous waste and identified by the EPA (http://www.epa.gov/) as a candidate for cleanup because it poses a risk to human health and/or to the environment.
The substances found at Superfund sites have been designated as causing or contributing to an increase in mortality or in irreversible or incapacitating illness, or posing a substantial present or potential hazard to human health or to the environment when improperly treated, stored, transported, disposed of, or otherwise managed. More than 800 (http://www.epa.gov/superfund/programs/er/hazsubs/cercsubs.htm) substances are currently designated as hazardous, and many more as potentially hazardous.
TOXMAP provides mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), as well as age and gender data from the US Census, and income data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
TOXMAP links to NLM's extensive collection of toxicology and environmental health references, as well as to a rich resource of data on hazardous chemical substances in its TOXNET databases (http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/). The resource also provides fact sheets and summaries about the chemicals, written by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and EPA progress reports on the Superfund sites.
Because many users may not be experienced in reading maps or understanding map data, TOXMAP provides a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) (http://toxmap.nlm.nih.gov/toxmap/help/faq.jsp) and a "Glossary of Terms" (http://toxmap.nlm.nih.gov/toxmap/help/glossary.jsp). Both resources attempt to provide questions/answers to supplement the user's ability to understand the map displays and the data. More information about TOXMAP can be found at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/factsheets/toxmap.html.
Haz-Map (http://hazmap.nlm.nih.gov) is an occupational health database designed for health and safety professionals and for consumers seeking information about the health effects of exposure to chemicals and biologicals at work. Haz-Map links jobs and hazardous tasks with occupational diseases and their symptoms.
Chemicals and biological agents in Haz-Map are linked to industrial processes and other activities such as hobbies. Occupational diseases and their symptoms are associated with hazardous job tasks and possible exposure to hazardous agents. Information from textbooks, journal articles, and electronic databases such as NLM's Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB®) is classified and summarized to create the database. HSDB is part of the TOXNET® (http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov) system of databases related to toxicology and environmental health.
HazMap also provides images of certain skin lesions and X-rays for some diseases.
LactMed (http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT),is one of the newest additions to the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) TOXNET system. It provides information on drugs and lactation.
Geared to the health care practitioner and nursing mother, LactMed contains over 450 drug records. It includes information such as maternal drug levels in breast milk, infant levels in blood, potential effects in breastfeeding infants and on lactation itself, the American Academy of Pediatrics category indicating the level of compatibility of the drug with breastfeeding, and alternate drugs to consider. References are included, as is nomenclature information, such as the drug’s Chemical Abstract Service’s (CAS) Registry number and its broad drug class.
LactMed was developed by a pharmacist who is an expert in this subject area. Three other recognized authorities serve as the database’s scientific review panel. Ancillary resources, such as a glossary of terms related to drugs and lactation, and breastfeeding links are also offered. LactMed can be searched together with TOXNET’s other databases in a multi-database environment, to obtain additional relevant information about drugs. As a work in progress, LactMed will continue to expand, as well as be enhanced with other substances, such as industrial chemicals and radiation.
ChemIDplus (http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?CHEM) is a free, Web-based search system that provides access to structure and nomenclature authority files used for the identification of chemical substances cited in National Library of Medicine databases, including the TOXNET® system. ChemIDplus also provides structure searching and direct links to many biomedical resources at NLM and on the Internet for chemicals of interest. The database contains over 400,000 chemical records, of which over 280,000 include chemical structures. It is searchable by Name, Synonym, CAS Registry Number, Molecular Formula, Classification Code, Locator Code, Structure, and/or Biological/Chemical properties.
There are two versions of this database: ChemIDplus Lite (http://chem.sis.nlm.nih.gov/chemidplus/chemidlite.jsp) version is available for simplified Name and RN searching without the need for plugins or applets. ChemIDplus Advanced (http://chem.sis.nlm.nih.gov/chemidplus/chemidheavy.jsp) allows various search capabilities beyond the Lite version including chemical structure and biological/chemical property searching.
WISER (Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders) (http://wiser.nlm.nih.gov) is a system designed to assist first responders in hazardous material incidents. WISER provides a wide range of information on hazardous substances, including substance identification support, physical characteristics, human health information, and containment and suppression guidance. It available on the Palm, Pocket PC, and Microsoft Windows™ platforms, and on Windows Mobile Smartphones. A Web-based WISER (WebWISER) is also available, supporting Web browsers for both PCs and PDAs, including BlackBerry (http://webwiser.nlm.nih.gov).
When handling hazardous material incidents, first responders in general, and Hazmat (hazardous materials) units in particular, must make many decisions quickly. They need accurate information about the hazardous substances, the emergency resources available, and the surrounding environmental conditions. WISER can assist in identification of an unknown substance and, once the substance is identified, provide guidance on immediate actions necessary to save lives and protect the environment.
WISER provides rapid access to the most important information about a hazardous substance; comprehensive decision support, including assistance in identification of an unknown substance and, once the substance is identified, guidance on immediate actions necessary to save lives and protect the environment; access to the National Library of Medicine's Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB®), which contains detailed peer-reviewed information on hazardous substances; and an intuitive, simple, and logical user interface developed by working with experienced first responders.
Stay Informed: Join NLM’s NLM-Tox-Enviro-Health-L
NLM-Tox-Enviro-Health-L (http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/enviro/envirolistserv.html) is an e-mail announcements-only list available from the National Library of Medicine's Division of Specialized Information Services (SIS). The purpose of the announcement list is to broadcast updates on SIS's resources, services, and outreach in toxicology and environmental health.
SIS RSS Feed Available
SIS also offers RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds of its News page (http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/news.html). RSS is a Web standard for sharing and distributing news and other frequently updated content provided by Web sites. The SIS feed address is http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/rss/sisnewsfeed.rss.
The SIS News feed will keep you informed about new resources and updates to NLM/SIS databases, and alert you to scientific meetings at which SIS will have exhibits, presentations, or classes.
An RSS reader, also called an aggregator, is required to use this service on your computer. There are many RSS readers from which to choose and many are available to download free from the Web. They offer a variety of functions; each has its own advantages. Instructions for adding the Division of Specialized Information Services News RSS feed to your reader are available at http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/sisrssfeed.html.
Now you can also learn about NLM’s environmental health and toxicology resources via a four minute "Quick Tour" (http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/enviro/captivate/tehipoverview.htm). The tour provides an overview of several environmental health and toxicology resources including Tox Town, the Household Products database, TOXNET, TOXMAP, and ChemIDplus. It is available from the Environmental Health and Toxicology portal (http://tox.nlm.nih.gov). Macromedia Flash Player is required (http://adobe.com/shockwave/download/download.cgi?P1_Prod_Version=ShockwaveFlash&promoid=BIOW).
Return to Top
Performance Standards Program
Strengthening the Nation’s Environmental Health Infrastructure and Improving Environmental Health Practice:
The Environmental Public Health Performance Standards Program
APHA and the Environment Section have repeatedly indicated support for strengthening the nation’s public health infrastructure and improving the practice of environmental health, and the CDC’s Environmental Public Health Performance Standards Program (EnvPHPS) offers a system for addressing those aims. The national Environmental Public Health Performance Standards have been under development for the past year after research determined the need for an environmental health companion module to the National Public Health Performance Standards. Through the implementation of these standards across the country at the state, tribal and local level, the CDC National Center for Environmental Health's Environmental Health Services Branch (EHSB) plans to build capacity, consistency and accountability within and across the nation’s environmental public health system. The Standards will be the primary tool to consistently and continuously assess the nation’s environmental public health capacity gaps in order to strengthen the nation’s environmental public health infrastructure. The CDC will also use the compiled capacity data from the assessments to build an accurate picture of the challenges facing the nation’s environmental health services delivery system and to provide information to Congress, federal agencies, state agencies and foundations on where to focus resources. In developing the Standards, the EHSB involved key public health partner groups, including APHA, in an April 2007 meeting and invited a number of jurisdictions to review and comment on the Standards from June-December 2007. The document is now being revised to incorporate this input, and the final draft document will go through federal clearance process early this year. The EHSB expects the final version to be available later in 2008.
Listed below are a number of benefits of using the EnvPHPS.
- The EnvPHPS is designed to align with the familiar format of the NPHPS.
- Using both instruments can assist in building understanding and team work between environmental health and other public health programs.
- The EnvPHPS can be used separately from or concurrently with the NPHPS to:
- Assess the capacity of a state, tribal or local jurisdiction to perform the essential environmental health services, and can be applied at the program, agency or system level;
- Identify and prioritize gaps in the environmental health system to perform the essential environmental health services;
- Develop an action plan to address the identified gaps and barriers to meeting the standards;
- Educate and train new and existing staff, other public health officials, policy-makers and elected officials about the role of environmental health in preventing disease and reducing hazards; and
- Provide credible evidence to demonstrate the value of environmental health service programs and to help justify the need for additional resources.
Since the Standards have been developed nationally and are generally accepted, they provide a level of credibility and justification for improvement. They have brought external recognition of leadership to the departments that have used them, and have been used to demonstrate improvements in environmental health practice. Developed with a perspective of the broad system of environmental health practice, they have application within virtually all environmental health and protection programs whether or not those programs reside in health departments.
The EnvPHPS program will be supported by a Web site with numerous online resources, including a tool kit for users. The program will also include an evaluation component to assess the effectiveness of the tool in improving capacity, the environment and public health.
Those wishing to view and use the draft standards can visit the EHSB Web site for the latest draft version and a selection of online resources, including a free, online training offered by NEHA with CDC support. http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/EnvPHPS/default.htm
CDC encourages all EH jurisdictions to become familiar with these new Standards and to actively promote their use.
Return to Top
EPA Aging Initiative
The EPA Aging Initiative monthly listserv includes funding opportunities, aging and environmental news from EPA and other federal and ngo's and recent publications, and fact sheets that raise awareness for older adults and their caregivers regarding environmental health hazards. The most recent fact sheet addresses environmental hazards related to women and exposures. Fact sheets have been translated into Spanish and many other languages. The listserv also includes resources and recent research on older adults and environmental hazards. The publications can be ordered: http://epa.gov/aging/resources/factsheets/order.htm
To join, go to the EPA Aging Initiative home page at www.epa.gov/aging and sign up under the heading “Click here to join the EPA Aging Initiative Listserver.”
Return to Top
The Documentary Series
UNNATURAL CAUSES - HEALTH IS MORE THAN HEALTH CARE: The Documentary Series
"The U.S. is one of the richest countries on the planet. Yet, we rank 29th in the world for life expectancy, among the worst in the industrialized world - and even lower than some poor countries like Costa Rica and Chile. What’s happening to our health? UNNATURAL CAUSES will, for the first time on television, sound the alarm about America's glaring socio-economic and racial inequities in health - and search for root causes. The four-hour series (slated for PBS broadcast beginning March 27 and a March 2008 DVD release) sifts through the evidence to discover there is much more to our health than bad habits, health care, or unlucky genes. The social conditions in which we are born, live and work profoundly affect our health and longevity.
UNNATURAL CAUSES will air nationally on PBS at 10 p.m. over four consecutive Thursdays beginning March 27, 2008. Please be sure to check with your local station for exact dates and times.”
Return to Top
Assistant Professor - Tenure track
Environmental Health Policy, Environmental Disasters, Environmental Management
The Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), seeks a tenure-track assistant professor specializing in environmental health policy, environmental disasters and environmental management. UAB is a highly innovative major research university with five schools ranking in the top 20 in NIH funding and an overall level of research funding totaling more than $433 million. The UAB Department of Environmental Health Sciences is ranked in the top 10 nationally. The University also hosts over 70 research centers, providing rich opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration. Responsibilities of this position include establishment of an independent, extramurally funded research program, graduate level teaching, and service. The successful candidate’s primary areas of focus will be environmental health policy, environmental management (including risk assessment), and environmental disasters. Primary appointment will be in Environmental Health Sciences with a Research Center appointment in the Center for the Study of Community Health. Minimum qualifications are a PhD, or equivalent degree, in public health or a related field with an established record of teaching and research. To apply, submit curriculum vitae, three letters of reference and cover letter to: Dr. Michelle Fanucchi, Search Committee Chair, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, RPHB 530, 1530 Third Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35294-0022. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. UAB is an equal opportunity employer/affirmative action employer
Return to Top
Environment Newsletter Archives