Past Presentation | How does the body size and overall health of humpback whales change across their migratory cycle? A team of researchers studying the animals, which spend part of the year feeding in Alaska and a few months fasting while in their Hawaiian breeding grounds, is making remarkable discoveries.
This story was originally published by Inside Climate News and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. In a way, when environmental researcher Ami Zota looks at data about patterns of cosmetics use by women of color in 2023, she’s gazing back in time. There were the fledgling days of the environmental justice movement in the 1980s, when […]
How to follow the heat to the next disease; and how following the science got a researcher in trouble. The post The Climate Crisis Is a Health Crisis appeared first on .
This story was originally published by Yale E360 and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. Almost 20 years after the adoption of hydraulic fracturing began to supercharge US production of oil and gas, there’s growing evidence of a correlation between the industry’s activities and an array of health problems ranging from childhood cancer and the […]
Those who garden look forward to the season of seed packets, plantings and abundant harvests. But research indicates another reason to eagerly anticipate a return to gardening: better health.
Evidence is building that fumes from gas stoves can aggravate lung ailments
While many individuals view the growth of moss in their gardens as a nuisance, they may not know that this ancient ancestor of all vegetation...
NIH study reviews 25 years of data and finds AI/ML can detect common hormone disorder. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can effectively detect...
From CalMatters health reporter Kristen Hwang: If Gov. Gavin Newsom was hoping amendments introduced to his mental health overhaul last week would sufficiently appease critics, Tuesday’s back-to-back committee hearings only revealed how much further he has to go to reach a compromise. The big idea: Newsom wants counties to prioritize behavioral health spending on homeless […]
A growing body of research ties health of Indigenous communities to the environment.
PITTSBURGH — In the next year, Allegheny County, which ecompasses Pittsburgh, is expected to get an entirely new board of health. The board of health is a nine-member panel that makes rules and regulations, addresses public health threats, advises the county health director and makes other important decisions impacting the health of residents. We spoke with public health experts and community health advocates about what a “dream team” board of health might look like. Everyone emphasized that there’s no place for politics in public health. They said it’s critical to choose board members who have expertise in public health, who recognize that health is a nonpartisan issue and who will prioritize the health of the community above all else. They all emphasized the importance of having community representation on the board — particularly from environmental justice communities.Why are we getting a new board of health?Board members are supposed to serve staggered four-year terms, but often end up serving past the expiration of their terms. Seven of the nine current board members are serving past expired terms. The other two members’ terms will expire in January 2024. In November 2023, Allegheny County will elect a new county executive who will take office in January of the following year, and will appoint nine new members to the board of health. The county health department is also about to get a new director, since Dr. Deborah Bogen, the county’s health director since 2020, has been appointed as secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health (Patrick Dowd is her temporary replacement). All these changes present a unique opportunity to reimagine the health department. Here’s what experts had to say.Alonzo Plough - Vice president for research and evaluation and chief science officer at the Robert Wood Johnson FoundationAlonzo Plough has worked at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for nine years. In that role, he helps to select the winners of the foundation’s Culture Of Health Awards, which honors communities, including county health departments, where people and organizations are advancing health and equity. Plough has served as director for several large county health departments that face challenges similar to those experienced by Allegheny County, including the Seattle and King County health department and the Boston Department of Public Health. EHN: What types of expertise should be represented on a board of health? Alonzo Plough: The majority of health challenges are rooted in social and environmental determinants of health. Things like clean air and water, access to healthy food and access to good medical care. While it’s good to have someone with clinical expertise on the board, public health practice involves a lot of important context that’s generally beyond the scope of how most physicians are trained. Public health isn’t public medicine. You want systems thinkers who understand the complex interactions of social, political and environmental determinants of health and inequality related to those challenges, and who will work to address them through systemic changes geared toward disease prevention. EHN: The Allegheny County Health Department is responsible for dealing with a broad range of issues — everything from food safety and lead remediation to plumbing inspections, immunizations, the opioid crisis and regulating air pollution. Can you speak about how a well-rounded board of health works together to address wide-ranging issues like these? Alonzo Plough: These issues may seem discrete, but they’re actually all related. You want systems thinkers who understand how these issues are interconnected. You also want a board of health and a health department that knows how to communicate what it does and the interconnectedness of these issues. People may know that the health department conducts restaurant inspections, but they might not understand that this is one of several preventative approaches to managing food-borne disease. You want collaborative knowledge building so communities understand what public health agencies are trying to do, and public health agencies understand barriers to equitable outcomes in health from the community’s perspective. EHN: What kind of partnerships would you like to see between the board of health and outside organizations? Alonzo Plough: It’s important that public health departments connect with local academic public health departments. A public health department needs to keep current and connected to evolving sciences that relate to public health practice. It’s often good to have a representative from academics working in public health on a board of health. It’s also good to form partnerships with local health networks and medical practices, and with community health advocacy groups. EHN: What types of representation should there be on advisory committees? Alonzo Plough: If you’re going to have advisory committees, transparency is key. From a governance standpoint, it’s important that the director and the board of health have a strategy and a hypothesis about why they are developing advisory groups that answers the question, “what problem is this group trying to help us solve?” For example, if you want an advisory group to address air quality, it has to have representatives from communities that are impacted by air pollution as well as individuals whose businesses might be part of the problem. An advisory group that doesn’t have both isn’t going to give you the information you need. EHN: Are there any common pitfalls a board of health should avoid? Alonzo Plough: The relationship between the board of health and director needs to be one of trust, candor and openness. The board should strategically guide where the department is going and help it align its resources to meet those goals and expectations, but not micromanage the day-to-day implementation of how that gets done. At this stage of public health practice, the board of health, the director and the health department should be very deeply involved in extensive engagement with community partners. There needs to be a primary focus on operationalizing health equity, which ultimately just means fairness. That’s really the operational responsibility of a county health department. And across the board, prioritizing transparency and building trust with the communities they serve is key.Dr. Maureen Lichtveld, dean of the School of Public Health at the University of PittsburghIn addition to serving as the dean of the School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh, Maureen Lichtveld is also a professor of environmental and occupational health and is the Jonas Salk professor of population health. She’s a member of the National Academy of Medicine and a member of the board of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health. Prior to joining Pitt in 2021, Lichtveld chaired Tulane University’s department of environmental health sciences in the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and spent 18 years with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. EHN: What types of expertise should be represented on a board of health? Maureen Lichtveld: A board of health should have both scientific expertise and fiscal expertise. I want to acknowledge the importance of being able to make plans and implement them within the scope of a budget, then assess the return on investment for those initiatives. Public health is multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary in nature, meaning that no one discipline or profession can do it alone. A good board of health and health department needs diversity: epidemiologists, environmental health specialists, infectious disease experts, health systems specialists, biostatisticians, behavioral health scientists. You also want some expertise in the most pressing public health issues facing Allegheny County, which include air pollution and environmental contaminants, opioids and addiction, and maternal and infant health, particularly among Black residents. Board members need to be in tune with the communities they serve, and it can be valuable to have representation from communities most impacted by public health issues on the board. You also need to prioritize having board members equipped to address the issues arising from climate change, which is the most egregious public health threat any of us are facing. EHN: What kind of partnerships would you like to see between the board of health and outside organizations? Maureen Lichtveld: I’m in favor of a close relationship between boards of health and schools of public health. At the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Public Health, we know that our research is important but is only meaningful if it makes a difference in people’s lives. And the people who translate research into practice are in public health departments. Academics can support public health departments with research and data analysis, and local health departments can provide students and faculty with training and real world learning experiences. It can also be helpful for health departments to foster partnerships outside academia, for example with health systems and insurance providers like UPMC [the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center], which can help with data on health issues in the region and be instrumental in addressing public health issues like maternal mortality and opioid use. EHN: Are there any specific initiatives you’d hope to see a newly revitalized board of health take on, particularly related to environmental health in the region? Maureen Lichtveld: There are three main questions to ask when you’re focusing on environmental health: Is the air safe to breathe, is the water safe to drink and is the food safe to eat. We all know that we need to address air quality. We work closely with the health department to address air quality issues now and also work closely with communities to do so, and we have grants to do work related to issues like childhood asthma. It’s important to continue that work and to focus on protecting those who are most vulnerable. Lead contamination is also a priority. And we absolutely need to start addressing the impacts of climate change. It would be great to see the health department have a much larger budget to address climate and environmental health issues.Matt Mehalik, executive director of the Breathe ProjectMatt Mehalik has served as executive director of the Breathe Project, a Pittsburgh-based collaborative of more than 50 regional and national environmental advocacy groups since 2016.Mehalik is also an adjunct professor of environmental policy at Carnegie Mellon University and previously served as a program director for Sustainable Pittsburgh. EHN: What types of expertise should be represented on a board of health?Matt Mehalik: Because the health department holds responsibility for implementing the federal Clean Air Act in Allegheny County, we particularly need people with a higher level of expertise in air quality regulation. We need people who have expertise in preventing diseases like asthma, and we need people with technical expertise in air pollution monitoring and enforcement, and people who deeply understand air pollution’s impacts on public health.We should also have more voices and representation from community members who are impacted by air pollution — particularly those in environmental justice communities or in close proximity to the most impactful sources of air pollution. EHN: Are there any types of appointees you think should be avoided on the new board of health? Matt Mehalik: We need to avoid regulatory capture by powerful industries. This is currently a problem.For example, the Allegheny County Health Department has a subcommittee on pollution prevention and education, and it’s chaired by U.S. Steel — one of the biggest industrial polluters in the county. As a result, they’re not doing their job, which is to educate people about air pollution. Industry interests are also overrepresented on other advisory committees, like the air advisory committee, and impacted communities are underrepresented. That needs to stop.There’s also a complete lack of transparency about who sits on these committees, what their affiliations are and how long their terms are. Those committees don’t have any legal force — they’re just advisory — but they do exert influence.EHN: Are there any specific initiatives you’d hope to see a newly revitalized board of health take on, particularly related to environmental health in the region?Matt Mehalik: First, I’d like to see much-improved dialog with local communities that experience air pollution issues.Second, the county should never agree to settlement agreements that create “pay to pollute” relationships with polluting entities — something we have major problems with right now.Third, we need better partnerships to analyze data and gather information related to air pollution events. We have the Smell Pgh app and Breathe Cams that Carnegie University’s CREATE Lab has created in collaboration with the Breathe Project, and the health department basically ignores all of that data right now.Fourth, there’s still a backlog of Title V permits at the health department. We need to eliminate that backlog and improve the way those permits are tracked and managed.Akshaya Jha, assistant professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon UniversityIn addition to teaching, Akshaya Jha researches the economic and environmental costs and benefits of public policies. Jha holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Stanford University, and was previously a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. EHN: What types of expertise should be represented on a board of health? Akshaya Jha: I’d like to see at least one member have expertise in interpreting academic studies that show the costs of air pollution in terms of public health — someone with a background in economics or public policy. It would also be helpful to have some scientific expertise in atmospheric chemistry. Pittsburgh is in a valley so air pollution tends to get trapped, and having some understanding about how that works and related health impacts would be helpful. Statistical expertise would be helpful for understanding the validity of studies on air pollution and how they apply in Pittsburgh. EHN: Can you talk about the health impacts of air pollution and the associated economic impacts? Akshaya Jha: There’s a rich body of evidence showing that exposure to PM2.5 [toxic airborne pollution particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter] corresponds to respiratory and cardiovascular conditions. Reducing air pollution lowers mortality from these diseases, which is where the biggest cost savings come in. Just about every study I’ve read shows that the economic benefits of lowering air pollution exceed the costs associated with reducing emissions. EHN: In an ideal world, what kind of partnerships would you like to see between the board of health and outside organizations?Akshaya Jha: I think a close relationship with academic partners is necessary. There should be a feedback loop between new research coming out and actions taken by the department of health, and between what the health department is seeing on the ground and what academics should be researching.Dr. James Fabisiak, director of the Center of Healthy Environments and Communities at the University of PittsburghIn addition to serving as director of the Center of Healthy Environments and Communities, James Fabisiak is a toxicologist and associate professor of environmental and occupational health at the University of Pittsburgh. His research focuses on the ways environmental health challenges impact communities, and how air pollutants cause lung injury and respiratory dysfunction at the cellular and molecular level. EHN: What types of expertise should be represented on a board of health? James Fabisiak: It’s important to have people who represent specific expertise, but you want to avoid people who are so highly specialized that they lose sight of the larger picture. When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. You need people who have experience working across disciplines as part of a team. Most county health departments aren’t responsible for regulating air quality, so in addition to the types of expertise you’d see represented on most boards of health, it would be wise here to have expertise related to technical aspects of regulating air pollution, the health effects of air pollution and the legal regulatory frameworks related to air pollution. People on the board of health should be fairly long-time residents of the area. Pittsburgh is culturally diverse, a city of neighborhoods, and you’d want the people in these roles to have some long-term commitment to and familiarity with the complexities of the region. And it’s important to have representation from communities that are impacted by public health issues. EHN: Are there particular issues you’d want to see a new board of health tackle? James Fabisiak: For the entire history of the health department, there have been community groups that say the department is not listening to us and is not responsive to our concerns. There needs to be a much larger, more transparent and inclusive conversation around air quality. You can make that argument for other environmental issues as well, including things like contaminants like lead and [the group of chemicals known as] PFAS in drinking water. We need more transparency across the board. We also need to strengthen enforcement of the regulations we already have in place. If I'm driving a car and I get pulled over for drunk driving one too many times, I get my license taken away. But if I violate air pollution laws, and I just keep getting monetary fines that aren’t significant to me, I’m disincentivized to change my behavior. Rules become a little meaningless if the repercussion for breaking those rules is not sufficient to ensure compliance.
Both the nature of the work and flaws in the support system cause injuries and illness
By Cara Murez HealthDay ReporterMONDAY, Sept. 25, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- One day, it may be possible to monitor people for risk of disease...
How does one discover their life's work in environmental health? The paths are numerous, but Dr. Nunez provides a compelling example.Dr. Nunez’s family migrated to the United States looking for job opportunities and a better life when she was a teenager. The transition from living in a small rural town in southern Mexico to San Diego, California, sparked in her an interest in learning about how our environments shape us and influence our lifestyles and health. In this video, learn how this first-generation college student discovered her passion for environmental health sciences and about her mission to contribute to creating healthy and sustainable communities where everyone has an opportunity to thrive. Yanelli Nunez, Ph.D.; Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Health EnergyYanelli Nunez earned her Ph.D. in environmental health sciences from Columbia University in 2020 after graduating with a Bachelor’s in biological sciences from San Diego State University and serving as a public health Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, West Africa. During her graduate studies, Dr. Nunez examined the effects of long-term exposure to air pollution on the aggravation of neurodegenerative diseases. She also worked on studies evaluating co-exposure to multiple environmental pollutants to more comprehensively characterize the totality of environmental stressors and their impact on health. During her graduate training, Dr. Nunez learned about the pronounced racial and social inequities in environmental exposures and the resulting health disparities, which drove her to focus her postdoctoral training on environmental equity. In the summer of 2022, Dr. Nunez completed her postdoctoral training at Columbia University, analyzing air pollution emissions trends to investigate whether improvements in air quality throughout the United States have been equitable across racial and economic groups. Dr. Nunez is currently a scientist in PSE Healthy Energy, working in close collaboration with community-based organizations, policymakers and stakeholders. She is expanding her environmental health research in the areas of climate resilience, energy equity and environmental justice. Dr. Nunez is an avid runner and hiker. She loves the outdoors, trying new food and exploring new cultures. Learn moreFind Dr. Nunez on Twitter @yanelli_nunezExplore her website here.Cutting Edge of ScienceDiscover what exciting research other early-career scientists are up to in our exclusive series in partnership with the Science Communication Network.Learn more here.
The federal government’s medical and behavioral research powerhouse has been taking steps to ensure that climate change is studied not only at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences but also at the 26 other centers and institutes that constitute NIH.
By Denise Mann HealthDay ReporterWEDNESDAY, Oct. 11, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Raging wildfires, droughts, floods and record-breaking heat brought...
A professor shares some perspective on how gas stoves can contribute to indoor air pollution
Shutting down carbon-spewing facilities can benefit human health as much as planetary health
Our zip codes are more important than our genetic codes in predicting our overall health and lifespans. Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania face unique environmental health challenges. This guide explores those challenges and how you can help address them. What is environmental health? Environmental health is the relationship between human health and our environment. The field of environmental health is a branch of public health that looks at the health effects of everything from air pollution and water contamination to toxic chemicals in consumer products and climate change. These issues impact the health, wellbeing and longevity of people who live in some places more than others — including Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania. Why is environmental health important in Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania? Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania have long been home to extractive and manufacturing industries that substantially impact the environment and human health. Long ago the region was home to the lumber industry, then some of the world’s first oil wells and coal mining, then steel mills, and now natural gas extraction and petrochemical plants. Many cities, towns and neighborhoods throughout southwestern Pennsylvania were populated and built around these industries, so local politics historically have been led or heavily influenced by industry insiders. This resulted in policies that prioritize industrial growth, often at the expense of the environment and human health. The effects of these practices and policies still linger today. The region also features unique topography with plentiful mountains and valleys that influence the way pollutants move through the environment (or don’t) and who is most impacted by them. What this guide will cover Air pollution in Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania Health impacts
Both the nature of the work and flaws in the support system cause injuries and illness. The post Why Being a Farmworker Is a Health Risk appeared first on .
This piece was published originally by Capital & Main. Last May, the National Toxicology Program (NTP), a federal research agency, was set to release its eagerly awaited report into the cognitive and neurodevelopmental impacts on humans from fluoride exposure. The report was anticipated for several reasons, including its review of studies linking fluoridated water to cognitive harm in children. Water […]
As summer heatwaves loom and farmworkers take to the fields, an in-depth report highlights massive gaps in regulations, especially around pesticide use and exposure.
The state attorney general says 21 companies named in the lawsuit have contributed to environmental contamination in New Mexico through their production and distribution of the chemicals.
Dental groups urged HHS officials to alter report they believed threatened water fluoridation
Costa Rica’s extensive use of highly hazardous pesticides in conventional agriculture is raising urgent health and environmental concerns. Recent research from the Toxic Substances Institute at the National University (UNA) indicates the country is consuming pesticides labeled as dangerously toxic by international authorities. Many substances commonly applied on Costa Rican farms, including mancozeb, glyphosate, 2,4-D, […] The post Costa Rica Urged to Ban Highly Hazardous Pesticides appeared first on The Tico Times | Costa Rica News | Travel | Real Estate.
PITTSBURGH — Covering environmental health during an ongoing global pandemic felt tricky at first. Initially, it felt trite to talk about anything health-related that wasn’t the pandemic when the coronavirus was so obviously the greatest threat to our collective health. The pandemic is not over — the virus continues to kill hundreds of Americans every day — but as it wears on, it’s become clear that threats to our environmental health exacerbated the pandemic and made us more vulnerable to its impacts. Research suggests that climate change and habitat loss were likely underlying causes of the pandemic and that exposure to air pollution made people more vulnerable to the virus. Research has also shown links between levels of exposure to certain toxic chemicals and the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. This year, much of the news shifted focus away from the pandemic, returning to the issues that were put on pause while the COVID-19 virus was all anyone could think or talk about, making it unnecessary to illuminate links to the virus in every news story. But it would be a mistake to stop thinking and talking about these big-picture connections. Environmental health and vulnerable communities For a lot of people, 2022 felt like the first “normal” year since 2020. It didn’t for me. My partner has an autoimmune disorder and takes medicine that suppresses his immune system, making him much more vulnerable to the coronavirus and its long-term effects. So while some of our loved ones have resumed going to concerts and parties to celebrate a return to “before times,” we’ve continued doing all those old, familiar 2020 things — wearing N95 masks anytime we’re in public, avoiding large indoor gatherings and ordering takeout instead of eating in restaurants. What did change for me in 2022 was a deepened understanding of how interconnected the issues that impact our health are — something disability rights activists have spent the entire pandemic raising the alarm about. The public health response to the pandemic bears many similarities to our response to environmental health issues, many of which disproportionately impact the same people. In both cases, we fail to prioritize the health of these vulnerable groups, despite the fact that 61 million Americans — one in every four of us — lives with a disability, one in every five Americans lives with autoimmune disorders and one in six Americans has a chronic disease. For example, this year I wrote about a study that found certain types of air pollution particles are significantly more deadly for patients with certain types of lung disease than others, which likely means they’re more dangerous for healthy people, too. Most of our current air pollution standards are geared toward protecting “healthy people,” which means the levels of air pollution that most of us are exposed to on a daily basis create elevated risk for everyone, and potentially life-threatening risks for those of us living with disabilities, autoimmune disorders and chronic diseases. I observed these kinds of disproportionate risks to vulnerable communities in nearly every story I covered this year, including the proposed siting of a hazardous waste landfill near homes and a school, arsenic and heavy metals from coal ash poisoning groundwater, widespread contamination from harmful "forever chemicals" and toxic emissions from fracking wells and plastic plants. Environmental health solutionsI also wrote a comprehensive guide to environmental health in western Pennsylvania this year, highlighting the ways our zip codes determine whether we get to be considered safe among the “healthy people” who are expected to be able to withstand the threat of barely mitigated pandemics and pollution, or whether we’re among those who are left to fend for ourselves. Recognizing these connections illuminates the vastness of our problems, but it also reveals that solutions to one problem can be instrumental in solving many more. For example, I wrote about a groundbreaking new type of air monitor developed at Carnegie Mellon University that aims to make air pollution monitoring more accurate and equitable, with the potential to revolutionize the way we think about, monitor and regulate air pollution. I also wrote about a study that found solar power at Pennsylvania schools doubled during the pandemic thanks in large part to student climate advocacy, and about how Colorado passed groundbreaking legislation that will protect its residents from exposure to harmful chemicals used by the oil and gas industry and the pathways Pennsylvania and states can take to do the same. These stories provide a blueprint for other networks to create meaningful, systemic changes that will make our world more equitable for everyone — not just those deemed healthy enough to be worthy of protection.A New War on Cancer This year, I also wrote my first book, which will be published in May 2023. It’s called “A New War on Cancer: The Unlikely Heroes Revolutionizing Prevention,” and it’s about preventing cancer by reducing widespread exposure to carcinogens in our everyday lives. In the course of writing it, I learned that these chemicals are so pervasive it’s impossible to shop our way out of this problem as individual consumers — that no matter how healthy or wealthy we are, or how much time we’re able to spend reading product labels, it isn’t possible to avoid near-constant exposure to chemicals that raise our cancer risk. The only way for any of us to stay safe is to implement policies that keep all of us safe. The good news: There’s a growing, national movement aimed at doing just that. “A New War on Cancer” profiles the people leading this movement and empowers readers to get involved.We all deserve health protections It gives me hope that this new movement to fight cancer aims to help everyone simultaneously — it isn’t starting with a “trickle down” model, as so many social movements of previous generations have (See: The LGBTQ comunity’s early exclusion of trans people from legislative efforts, the feminist movement’s history of excluding women of color). Instead, it starts from the ground up, incorporating the concept of intersectionality, which, at its most basic level, says we can’t have true justice for some without achieving justice for all. In the case of preventing cancer risk from exposure to harmful and ubiquitous chemicals, that’s true on a literal, physical level. In 2023, I hope to cover more attempts to expand our shared search for safety and wellness that prioritize everyone’s health — not just those deemed “healthy enough” to be worthy of protection.
PITTSBURGH — A group of about 50 health care workers including doctors, nurses and public health officials from across the U.S. attended an “environmental justice walking tour” in Pittsburgh this morning. They’re here for CleanMed, a three-day conference on sustainability in the healthcare industry. Participants in the pre-conference tour walked along the river trail downtown, learning about the city’s industrial past and ongoing problems with pollution. Walking along the Allegheny River with scenic views of the city’s iconic yellow bridges on a clear, sunny day, the group learned that pollution from the steel industry was once so bad Pittsburgh was nicknamed “hell with the lid off.” They heard the story of the deadly Donora smog incident nearby that spurred the creation of the federal Clean Air Act, and learned about the ways early industrialists like Andrew Carnegie and Henry John Heinz shaped the city. During a stop in front of the Point State Park fountain, many tour participants pulled out their phones to take pictures of fully loaded coal barges. “Even seeing all of that coal in the barges is interesting,” Katya Simkhovich, a relationship manager at Ceres, a nonprofit that helps corporations (including those in the health care sector) reach their sustainability goals, told Environmental Health News (EHN). “When you work in the sustainability space every day, it’s easy to forget that’s still happening. It’s kind of a harsh reminder that the wheels keep turning even while we're trying to reinvent which wheels we’re using.”The tour also made a stop beneath a rusty, visibly dilapidated Norfolk Southern rail bridge that crosses the river in front of the convention center where the conference is being held. Glenn Olcerst, an advocate with the community group Rail Pollution Protection Pittsburgh, talked about the threats posed by budget cuts and lack of maintenance on the rail lines, pointing to the recent train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, as an example of what can go wrong.“If that happened here, they’d have to evacuate 300,000 people,” Olcerst said. “This is a problem for Pittsburgh, but this is also a nationwide problem.”The rail line represents a primary route for hazardous chemicals and explosive oil and gas products on the East Coast, according to Olcerst, and travels through 27 of Pittsburgh’s most populated neighborhoods. He also noted that an estimated 70% of Pittsburgh's low-income minority communities live within a blast zone, a clear example of environmental injustice.Human rights healthcare approachAfter the two-hour walking tour, the group met with local environmental justice advocates for a roundtable discussion. Germaine Gooden Patterson, a community health worker at Women for a Healthy Environment, talked about ongoing air pollution problems from U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works about 15 miles south of Pittsburgh, and discussed the region’s ongoing problems with childhood lead exposure.NaTisha Washington, an environmental justice organizer for 412 Justice, said it’s challenging to convey to residents that many of their health issues are related to the region’s environmental challenges, particularly in the face of disinformation being spread by polluting industries in the region.“These industries tell people the air here used to be bad, but now it’s fine,” she said. “I had childhood asthma, and when I was in school it seemed like it was just normal for one in every three kids to have it. It wasn't until I got into environmental justice work that I found out we had higher than average rates of childhood asthma and that our air pollution was driving that.”Jackie Smith, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh and local organizer with the Pittsburgh Human Rights City Alliance, discussed local initiatives to take a human rights-centered approach to health care, noting that access to healthy food and housing, along with clean air and water, are just as important to health as access to medical care and treatment are.“Caring for people’s health doesn’t just take place in clinics and hospitals,” Smith said. “We’ve got to look upstream and put our energy into addressing the problems that put people in clinics and hospitals in the first place.”
Air pollution doesn't just harm your lungs and skin — new research shows it also harms the brain
Environmental protection in the most populous state is a big job. Yana Garcia comes to it with a background in environmental justice.
A survey to measure who was getting vaccinated against Covid-19 in Uganda finds health workers had an important role to play.
Robert VanZile implored lawmakers to do more to address tribal concerns about pollution, health care and violence against Native American women.
Environmental Health News reporter Kristina Marusic is one of five people to receive a 2023 Child Health Advocate Award from the Children's Environmental Health Network, a national nonprofit a dedicated to protecting children from environmental hazards.The annual awards honor outstanding children's environmental health advocates in policy, science, community organizing, youth leadership, and media for "leadership on behalf of children's environmental health, equity, and climate action and justice." Marusic will receive the media award for her reporting on issues related to children's environmental health, particularly through her book, "A New War on Cancer: The Unlikely Heroes Revolutionizing Prevention," which was published this May."Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of pollution," Marusic said. "It's an honor to have my work recognized by an organization that's devoted to protecting our smallest, most vulnerable humans." The other awardees include Nathaniel Smith, founder and chief equity officer at the Partnership for Southern Equity; Brenda Eskenazi, professor emeritus at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health and director of the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health; Donele Wilkins, CEO of the Green Door Initiative; and Manu Onteeru, a student at Dartmouth College and the founder of Project Mislead.The award winners will be honored at a reception in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, October 12th, which is Children's Environmental Health Day. They''ll also speak about their work and children's health during a virtual panel discussion on October 2nd at 2:30pm EST.
Infants, the elderly, persons living with disabilities, pregnant women, outdoor workers, and those who are on chronic medications are the most vulnerable to death as a result of exposure to extreme heat, according to research conducted by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and its partners. The research, according to the SAMRC, draws a correlation […] The post South Africa’s Heatwave Poses Serious Health Threat, SAMRC Warns appeared first on SAPeople - Worldwide South African News.
Records show dental groups urged Department of Health and Human Services to alter report they believed threatened water fluoridation. The post Health Officials Delayed Report Linking Fluoride to Brain Harm appeared first on .
Dr. Robbie Parks joins the Agents of Change in Environmental Justice podcast to discuss the need to treat destructive storms, hurricanes and typhoons as public health and justice issues. Parks, a current fellow and assistant professor in environmental health sciences at Columbia University, also talks about moving to the U.S. from the U.K., population-level health lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic, and his love of football (soccer!).Parks also plays an original song for us — a first on the podcast! Visit his Bandcamp to hear more of his music. The Agents of Change in Environmental Justice podcast is a biweekly podcast featuring the stories and big ideas from past and present fellows, as well as others in the field. You can see all of the past episodes here.Listen below to our discussion with Parks, and subscribe to the podcast at iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher. Agents of Change in Environmental Justice · Robbie Parks on climate justice and mental healthTranscriptBrian BienkowskiAll right, I am super excited to be joined by Robbie Parks. Robbie, how're you doing today?Robbie Parks Very well. Thank you. How are you, Brian?Brian Bienkowski I'm doing excellent. And where are you coming at us from?Robbie Parks I'm in New York City, or Brooklyn to be precise. We're at home. And that's where I live and work, in New York City. So here I am.Brian Bienkowski Excellent. And you are not from there. Of course, maybe people have already picked up a slight accent. You are from the UK, having been raised in London. Tell me about your upbringing. Tell me about the beginnings.Robbie Parks Yes, very perceptive. I am indeed not from New York City. I'm a transplant from the UK, in London. So you know, London was an amazing place to grow up, I grew up specifically right in the middle in a place called Pimlico. So just to give a quick shout out to my local area there. And I really loved growing up there. You know, it was sort of, in some ways people might say as a first pass, it was like New York City in that you could really feel the world in the city in lots of different ways. It was very multicultural, and it still is. Lots of different things to do. You can never be bored if you you know, they say "tired of London, tired of life." So, you know, really, there was always stuff to do. I really had a great time and lots of opportunity from, you know, the education system and was really fortunate to get a couple of really good breaks there that changed my life. And, you know, though I grew up without, you know, huge amounts of means, most of the time, I didn't really think about that I was just really excited to to be in such a big and vibrant city. And I think my friends and family would probably agree that it's turned me into a real city person. I am really comfortable in the city. So yeah, I loved growing up in London.Brian Bienkowski Well, we, we have had the chance to meet and I feel like you're a kindred soul. But I will say that is one place that we part ways as a person. So I'm glad. I'm glad there's some of you out there. So places like where I live can stay remote and, and sparse. So you mentioned London's multiculturalism. And I think that's an interesting point, because maybe I'm pigeon-holing my fellow Americans, but I think there's this misinformed notion that all British people are royal or wealthy and London is a full of that. And it's not, of course. So when you came to the States, how would you describe that transition? And if you felt that coming here?Robbie Parks Well, you know, just to be clear, all British people do know at least one royal member of the family. So you know, we are very well-versed and we do often go for tea at Buckingham Palace. But that aside, in all seriousness, yeah, it is a very vibrant, diverse place, London in particular, but also many parts of the UK. And I sort of came over after my Ph.D. finished in late 2019. And, you know, I think I was quite naive really, with the transition because I'd never lived anywhere else really apart from UK. And so I thought coming to New York would be relatively easy in the grand scheme of things because you know, one of the main languages being English, I thought it'd be very straightforward, but you know, the transition was anything but straightforward. I found it incredibly stressful and traumatic, especially because I didn't really didn't know anyone when I moved to New York, but also, you know, lot large parts of my life was still in, in London, in the UK. And, you know, I taught that when I moved, I knew that 2020 was coming. But in 2019, what everyone was thinking about in 2020 was the presidential election. And that's all everyone was talking about, you know, when I first moved, and little did we all know, that that wouldn't really even be one of the biggest events of 2020. But it would be merely one of the top five, probably, and so, you know, the transition into the pandemic really was a real shock to everyone. But for me, away from family and friends and family, I would say that, that was particularly difficult. And I was really blessed and fortunate to have so many new and good friends that I'd made in New York City in a large part because of, you know, meeting people through my university there. And so, you know, in terms of the other elements of it, where I think I was naive, I think, on a first pass, you know, New York City and London are quite similar. You know, there's similar populations, similar sorts of multicultural nature. They both got subways, you know, one is better than the other, I would say, but then I'm biased towards London, probably still. And, but really, I think culture and society are actually quite differen when you scratch below the surface. I think one of the first things I realized, you know, the silly example is I, I needed to fill in tax forms before I even started working, that was incredibly confusing, but really, I think that there's just a different sort of flavor on the way that people behave. I think, you know, the, the old cliche with with New Yorkers, they're trying to get somewhere all the time. And that really is the sort of case. And I found that that was, you know, very different from London, where people were in a rush. But I think there's a certain dynamism in New York and a certain... I don't know what the word is, but maybe you might say grittiness that, that isn't really necessarily everywhere in London. And I think that, my friend, Russ, told me that something I remember in New York, he said, Now, I still to this day, use it to sort of justify why I live here. And he said that, you know, "it makes the easy thing is hard, and the hard things easy." And I think, you know, getting groceries can can take half a day. But you know, if you want to see world-class art and science, it's right here, and it's easy to get. So that's the way I think about it. And that kind of helps me live day-to-day here.Brian Bienkowski I've never heard that. And that's, that's so true. What a great what a great way to put it. And you're mentioning, I didn't actually didn't know that you move there during pre pre-pandemic right before. And when you mentioned a difficult transition, I find cities can be some of the most lonely places, despite the fact that you're surrounded by billions of people. And it's kind of a little bit of... screws with your mind a little bit because I had that in Chicago a little bit just feeling very lonely, but surrounded by a lot of people. So I'm glad you've found your footing. And of course, your research has helped us understand that pandemic a little bit. And we are going to get into that soon. But I wanted to know, what is the defining moment or event that shaped your identity up to this point?Robbie Parks Yeah, what a great question. I think, you know, there are many things in everyone's life every day that shape your identity. If I had to reduce it to one life event, it would probably be you know, in relation to my parents passing away. My dad passed away when I was relatively young, in my early teens, and my mum passed away a few years ago, and both events, looking back and the longer I think about it, and the longer I sort of write my research and do my research and go through my career, and just in general, my interactions with everyone, I feel like it's a lens – that bereavement and that grief from from both my parents loss – I feel like that's really a lens through which I see a lot of my life and that's personal and professional as well. I think it's influenced a lot from from my professional life. And I think I'm looking forward to sharing the essay that I've written with with you, because I think that that will sort of help as well put flesh on the bone there. But yeah, definitely sort of those bereavements for me.Brian Bienkowski Well, thanks so much for sharing that. And I don't know, I don't know when your essay will come out, but I encourage everybody to read it. You should be reading all the essays. But Robbie's in particular has really stuck with me as we've started the editing process. So as I mentioned, now you are studying all kinds of important things and I want to start with COVID, because we're still dealing with it here in 2023, unfortunately. So you're, broadly you're researching how environmental hazards impact the world's population, both now and in the future. And you've researched the pandemic and its responses from different angles and in different countries. And I'm wondering if you could just kind of share some of the more important and interesting bits of research you found, and how it can or should inform us as we still deal with it today.Robbie Parks Yeah, so just to be clear, I would be speaking from a population health expertise perspective. So you know, of course, I'm not an expert at all in sort of the medical side of things, but really, from a demograph/population health side of things, but I, you know, I do have a voice and based on my research on what we found, from official death records, essentially in many different countries. And the way that we would, and we have analyzed COVID-19's impact on public health is through excess deaths. And excess deaths, in a nutshell, what happens to the number of deaths now relative to similar periods in the past. Now, of course, we all know that lots of people died from COVID, and is a tragedy, and it's an ongoing tragedy, this global pandemic, however, the way you would manage –let me start again. However, the way you would manage that impact, really is a function of, you know, the infrastructure of recording deaths in each country, and that varies. However, you know, assuming you have reliable death records, you can create models and design models to measure the difference between the expected number of deaths at one point and the actual number of deaths at that particular point. And of course, during many parts of the COVID 19 pandemic, a lot more people died than otherwise would have had there been no pandemic. So why did that vary between countries? And why did that, in fact, vary between states? Well, of course, policies matter. So, you know, we're seeing a sort of unfortunate natural experiment. And we did see that in the United States, especially over the first couple of years, how different policies and different behaviors would impact something like infectious disease, like COVID-19. And so, you know, lockdowns and other non-pharmaceutical interventions, made a critical difference, especially at the beginning. And so, you know, in the first half of 2020, if I invite you, your day you to, to go back to that particular time, especially in the United States, you know, over half of excess deaths really were –at the beginning half of 2020– for countries like England and Wales and Scotland and Spain, whereas in the second half of 2020, you know, that's when the bulk of excess deaths in that year happened in Bulgaria, Croatia, other countries in Central and Eastern Europe. And so why was that? it was largely a function before vaccines, remember, that the pressure and the scale of lock downs and the speed at which, and the timing of which those lock downs were placed. And, you know, that is inevitably a political decision, as well as the scientific position. And that goes, of course, in terms of, you know, the United States too. And, you know, behavioral science is probably, I would say, an underestimated element of the way we understood the pandemic before it happened. And in early stages, because the idea of telling people, a pandemic was happening, we thought probably was enough to make people sort of think we have to look down. But now what we realized is there's lots of unintended consequences to those ideas. And in the end, people's belief in science is really, really important. And, of course, there are forces that don't always help with the belief in science, but it's sort of incumbent on scientists to sort of understand that we need people to believe the science that we produce. And that's super important. And, of course, vaccines matter. And that's relevant to it. I'm not a vaccine expert, but, you know, the impact of vaccines has been clear. But really, if we're talking about non-pharmaceutical measures, then preparedness matters. That's before, during and after a pandemic. There are lots of lessons to learn there in terms of what politics and what the social fabric can do if we work together. Now, of course, in the United States, and, you know, other sorts of high-income countries, you know, vaccines are readily available. And so, you know, the latest sort of insights I would talk about really would be would be in the younger ages and how COVID-19 is impacting the children and adolescents. And, you know, recent research that I've been involved with is really highlighting how important it is to focus on the health of our children and adolescents with respect to COVID-19. because it is one of the top 10 causes of death for most age groups below 19. And in fact, the death rates for many of those age groups for COVID-19 pre-vaccination was higher than many of the worst regarded diseases like measles were before vaccines were available for those diseases. So it's really important to frame it in a historical context of how dangerous COVID-19 is, even for people we regard as safe from COVID-19 it is still very dangerous, potentially deadly virus that we need to contain.Brian Bienkowski I don't want to give listeners whiplash here, but you are studying lots of things, not just COVID. And I want to switch gears to tropical cyclones, which I've noticed, when I was looking at your your body of work. So you're focusing a lot of your effort here now and we think, I think we... in terms of infrastructure damages, the first place my mind goes when I think of tropical cyclones. But can you walk us through why this is also a public health and and climate justice issue?Robbie Parks Of course, you know, when a tropical cyclone, hurricane, typhoon, cyclone, whatever it's called anywhere in the world, you know, life can be destroyed by a tropical cyclone. And that includes, you know, infrastructure from buildings, of course, that's what people think of when they see the press, the tropical cyclone having laid waste to a particular area, or flooded a particular area or destroyed buildings, etc, etc. And there's no doubt that the damage to property is one of the huge influences of tropical cyclones. But, you know, as I said, life can be destroyed very quickly by a tropical cyclone, or actually in slow motion over months and years. And so the impacts on public health, the impacts can be short to mid-term to long-term. You know, in the sort of hours and days after a cyclone has arrived at a particular place, there are direct impacts on public health. Now they can be deadly or in fact, they can damage your health but not kill you. And the first obvious example would be from injuries, fron electrocution, clearing up debris, being hit by flying debris. Then, of course, you've got a multitude of other causes, which sort of span into the days, weeks and months and even years after a cyclone has hit without appropriate recovery. And that could include infectious and parasitic diseases, cardiovascular diseases, neuropsychiatric conditions and respiratory diseases. Now take a few in turn, you know, infectious diseases can can spread from compromised drinking water, sanitation, damage to water pipes, which is related to infrastructure and disruption to treatment plants. Whereas cardiovascular diseases, you know –increases to heart attacks–, I'll start again. Cardiovascular diseases have increased related to heart attacks, cardiac arrests, from physical overexertion. People with pre-existing conditions who are taken unfortunately over the edge to death, from the stress and over-exertion of tropical cyclones, and, of course, traumatic psychological consequences, with a high prevalence of anxiety and mood disorders, evident of the, you know, American hurricane such as Harvey and Katrina, and increased risk of dementia, and decreased survival rates of people living with those conditions after tropical cyclone disasters and other similar ones. And of course, you got respiratory diseases disrupted from dust kicked up after tropical cyclones. But really one of the main issues of interest is for me, is really the power network and how robust that is to attacks from disasters. And so disruptive power supplies can disrupt all sorts of care, including breathing aids. And of course, we all know that, you know, cyclones are essentially stochastic events – they're random – but where they tend to hit, you know, both of is biased towards hitting more disadvantaged areas, and historically disadvantaged communities, both in the US but also in the world. But also, when those places are hit, they are really unprepared or less-well prepared than other areas. And in terms of the money that goes in afterwards, you know, it's harder to make sure that that money goes to the places where it's needed most. And I think that's why really, it's an issue of environmental and climate justice. So the disruption is, can be short term. It could be, but it can also be a matter of decades. And I think you're seeing that in some areas of America too.Brian Bienkowski What are some of the ways – and I'm thinking about the US in particular here, just picking up on the notion of this as a justice issue – that our responses is lacking? Where can we do better? And do you have thoughts how we can better serve these communities and dealing with the aftermath of the storms?Robbie Parks Absolutely, I think, you know, though, cyclones will inevitably arrive each year. The worst consequences on society and public health are often avoidable, with an equitable, long-term approach. So, you know, resilience to tropical cyclones is actually built over a long time. And so the depth of preparation is really a function of the amount of time needed. And so, robust societal infrastructure, including social services, housing stock, power distribution, and the recognition that you know, in the United States and elsewhere, one tropical cyclone or one hurricane can can affect communities differently, and that those differences are driven, you know, in large part by demographic, economic, social factors. You know, in non-affluent communities, impacts are often exacerbated due to institutional neglect and historical racism. And, of course, the recovery is, is also often very inequitable, with federal aid and private insurance, particularly difficult to obtain by Black and low-income individuals compared with other individuals. Now, of course, people talk about evacuation as a useful way to provide short term relief from a cyclone. But again, it's a very short term fix. And you know, what people come back to may not be what they left in any way, shape, or form. But I also want to stress the point that evacuation is a luxury in some ways. Because, you know, even if you've got an adequate early warning system, your family may not have the financial resources or adequate transport, or indeed, the faith and belief that their belongings are safe. And, you know, others are also expected to stay because of long-term health conditions for themselves or their close loved ones. And it's a very reasonable expectation that they wouldn't leave because they're actually worried that leaving may imperil people's health, more than actually staying. And so, you know, with evacuation, I would say this: it's a luxury for some people. But you know, if you evacuate the next question, I would say is where to, and so some simply have nowhere to go and cannot leave. And so in summary, really, you know, all of the all of the above is important, you know, resilience, recovery. And in understanding that people in place require a resilience that is not just moving people around, which is going to solve the public health impact of disasters like tropical cyclones.Brian Bienkowski One area research that is really interesting to me, and I'm starting to see more coverage both in the scientific community and in kind of the media writ large, is the link between environmental issues and mental health. And I'm sure there are some of these with tropical cyclones as well. But can you talk about some of your work examining the impacts of high temperatures, on things like assault, suicide, alcohol use and other kinds of mental health downstream impact?Robbie Parks Yeah, absolutely. You know, of course, it's related to tropical cyclones. But there are other things you know, which are known as ambient exposures, if you like, like pollution and temperature, which are essentially there all the time. And there's more and more research on the impacts of those on mental health related outcomes. Now, of course, for me, I'll talk about what I've done. Now in, you know, in previous published work that I led, in part from my Ph.D., I researched how anomalously warm temperatures were associated in the United States with suicides and assaults. And I found that there was indeed a robust association, which has actually been borne out by other studies around the world and in the United States, over the past few years. And you know, what I found, which is very interesting, really, is that we predicted from our analysis that the majority of the additional suicides and assaults would be largely concentrated in younger males. And so there's an element of trying to understand what would be driving that particular vulnerability in those people. And you know, it's an emerging subject in the global stage as well. And so I've been working in a working group with the WHO on a report on the impacts of climate change on mental health worldwide. And you see, you know, the idea that, you know, having scarcer resources, having higher temperatures put stressors on the body and the mind, which would potentially lead to more conflict and more sort of violent behavior and actually more despair. And that's sort of related to the idea that, you know, feeling like, you've got nothing, feeling like, you've got a loss of the place that you call home, your friends and family, you know, all of that ties together to sort of highlight the idea, and really the concept that climate change impacts not just physical health, but also mental health.Brian Bienkowski I can imagine this work can be a mental stressor for you, you're looking at things that... COVID deaths, climate change, cyclones – I mean, these are these are heavy things, you're looking at population-level impacts. What are you optimistic about?Robbie Parks I think, you know, one of the reasons that I probably am still doing the work that I do, and have still got body and mind to gather in some way is because I am, I think, automatically optimistic, or by default, I am optimistic. And I think I still hold true. The idea that, the basic idea really, that humans care about each other fundamentally, and, and given the choice with, you know, the right availability of those choices, they're always do the right thing. But you know, society is constructed that mostly that sometimes we're not given a fair shot. But really generally what I see every day, in day-to-day interactions with people is that, you know, humans do care about each other. So I do have hope about the idea that we can tackle this beast called climate change and other huge problems in the world.Brian Bienkowski And for more on that, I would encourage listeners to check out I believe the podcast was titled "Meet Maria and a COP 27 review," where I spoke with Robbie and Alexa White, another fellow, about their experience at COP last year, and Robbie speaks more about kind of some of the things he's optimistic about when it comes to the activist presence at some of these larger climate negotiation events. So Robbie, I know you're a football fan or soccer for us, here in the States. Tell me about who is your favorite team because I think that's a big deal where you come from, just like, American football would be here and maybe describe to me and listeners the passion that comes with football fandom in the UK.Robbie Parks Yes, so you're completely right that, you know, soccer or football as we choose to call it, because we do touch the ball with the foot, So it kind of makes more sense than than American football or football, as you call it here. But that, you know, that's the minor jibe. But really, so my dad was from Glasgow, Scotland. So, you know, I'm always gonna have a soft spot for Celtic football Club in in Scotland. But of course, for people who follow football or soccer, they know that, you know, it's actually the UK is one country, but has four nations. And so Scotland has one league, or several Scottish leagues, and England has the Premier League and, and, you know, I, I sort of have great admiration for Marcus Rashford of Manchester United as a player and as a person. I think, if listeners haven't heard of Marcus Rushford, then I think I'd really recommend looking him up not only he's an excellent player for the England team, but he's also just from what I can tell just a fantastic person. And you know, speaking of the England team, I think, you know, really watching the England team makes me nostalgic about the way that we would grew up, we would sort of go to pubs and drink, you know, a pint of beer while watching the football during World Cups and European Championships. And I think we'd get very excited. And then invariably, we'd be disappointed. And I think that sort of peak and trough was very, very imprinted in my mind. So I've been beaten out of them enthusiasm. Now surprisingly, over the past few years, the England team has actually been quite good. And so, you know, despite not having won anything still, since 1966, yes, 19 66 is the date that most England fans will will have on their wall, when we won the World Cup. It was in England, so you know, whether or not that was played a role, I don't know. But I think you know, the idea that Englands are, you know, an ascendant force in football, gives me sort of a bit of solace. And so now I do allow myself to get a little bit excited. But you know, football instills, a lot of passion in the UK, and England in particular, as well as other places. But it sort of goes hand-in-hand, as I said, with pub culture. And so it has positive implications and negative implications. But for me, I'm going to focus on the positive because it's inherently social. And, you know, I am still, you know, if any, any listeners have any idea about the best place to do that in New York City, from a football fan, that replicates the English pub experience, I'd be all is.Brian Bienkowski Oh, that has to exist somewhere. I remember being in New York and finding a bar that catered to Detroit fans, I was there to watch a Tigers game. And it seems like there's everything there. So there has to be a good football bar. Do you get to play in New York? Do you ever get out and, and play soccer?Robbie Parks I have now and then but you know, really, I I focus on trying to find time to do exercise in between work and sort of music that that tends to be alone, so tend to go on a run to Prospect Park or go to Fort Greene and do exercise. But you know, when I do see people playing team sports, I always, I am always a little bit envious of the fact that, you know, it's a social event, rather than just having to focus on the pain that you're going.Brian Bienkowski I'm, I'm a cyclist here. And I spent a lot of years as a runner, and it was obviously a solo – well, not obviously, you can run with folks – but it was mostly a solo activity training. And I switched to cycling, and I ride a lot alone, but I started riding with a group and I look forward to that group or that group ride so much every week, there's something about being around other people that brings out a little competitive spirit, and also just makes the time kind of click by, soRobbie Parks Absolutely. Absolutely there.Brian Bienkowski And you mentioned your other hobby, passion, former job maybe, is a musician. So what role, what role does making music plays in your life now, and if it at all intersects with your research and the rest of your professional life?Robbie Parks Yeah, so, you know, after my undergraduate degree, and my Ph.D., I did spend a lot of time really focusing on on music and trying to build myself as a, as a musician with a band. So you know, music for me, really, is, you know, to avoid a cliché, or barely avoid a cliché sort of, music is the soundtrack of my life. And, you know, I mean that, whatever I'm doing, I'm always thinking about music, I'm always looking at music, reviews, I'm always trying to find new music, I'm always listening to my favorite records while I work. So for me, you know, probably like most people, music has provided a lot of that secure that I need in my good times, and my bad times, in my low times, I think whatever my mood, there's always music for it. And so for me, it's that universal, sort of self that I always need in my life. And, you know, that sort of originated from, you know, my parents. You know, in Filipino culture, my mom was Filipino, you'd always have a piano in the house, electric piano that tended to be an instrument, which gather dust more than anything else. So like, it was always the idea that you wanted your, your child to learn piano. And so I was lucky enough to learn piano and I taught myself guitar. And then, when I was 11, or 12, I was in a supermarket in UK and I saw this record called Kid A, and I was fascinated by the cover. And then I was like, mom, who's that, and she had no idea. And then, you know, turns out was a band called Radiohead, and I, and they're British band, for those you haven't heard of them. And for me, they really sort of provided the compass direction that informs really the rest of my musical tastes and career. So, you know, other British bands like Pink Floyd and The Beatles, and some other American groups, but really, it sort of starts and ends with Radiohead for me. And so I really love that band. And, you know, I think in terms of my research, it sort of activates a different side of my brain than I use in science. So you talk about left and right brain sort of ideas. But I think using the two sides of my brain at different times, they kind of merge into each other in in good ways, I think. And so the creativity of, of music and the creativity of science, I think, are complementary, but also the logical side of, I guess the objective side of science can really help me to sort of think of the way I write songs as well. So, so I think, you know, I don't think there's a direct obvious way in terms of me, you know, playing music at scientific conferences or something, but I think in terms of the way that informs my art and science, I think there is something in that keeping both activated. It really helps meBrian Bienkowski We might have to do a whole podcast on Radiohead just a couple of quarter life to midlife dudes talking Radiohead. That's, that's what the podcast world needs needs another one of those, but I love that record. Kid A is a fantastic record, as was The Bends, was the other one that really that really stuck to me. I hate to put you on the spot. But I happen to know that there's a guitar around there and would you be so kind as to play us, play us a song? it would be a first for the podcast.Robbie Parks Well, I really never thought you'd ask. So you know, thank you for the invitation. So that Yeah, sure. Sure. Why not?Brian Bienkowski Wonderful. And what is this song called?Robbie Parks So this is a song I wrote in collaboration with my fantastic partner, Elissa, who is an excellent fiction writer. But we also quickly discovered while collaborating that she's actually a fantastic lyricist, so this song is called "Heaven not far away."Brian Bienkowski All right, Robbie, that was beautiful.Robbie Parks Oh, thank you very much.Brian Bienkowski Excellent. Well, thank you so much. Well, we will make sure to include a link. And before I get you out of here, I just have some last fun questions. Hopefully they're fun most of the time they're fun. And these first three, you can just answer with a word or a phrase. If I wasn't a researcher, I would want to be aRobbie Parks musician.Brian Bienkowski The best way to spend an hour of free time isRobbie Parks playing music.Brian Bienkowski I notice a theme. My favorite concert I've been to isRobbie Parks As I said Radiohead several times, but if I picked one, it probably be at Lollapalooza in Berlin in 2016.Brian Bienkowski And what is the last book you read for fun? you don't have to confine yourself to one word here. I'd love to hear a little bit about it.Robbie Parks So, you know, my favorite author, author of recent times, is a British author called Kazuo Ishiguro, and my favorite book of his, which I only really read recently, is "Remains of the Day." And really, it's this very strange English situation. It's about a butler. And it's about a butler called Mr. Stevens during the sort of interwar period between the First World War and the Second World War. But really, you know, the reason I love Kazuo Ishiguro so much is because he sort of deals with issues about loss and yearning, and covering up that loss and yearning, which is in many ways, sort of fundamental to British society, but lots of different societies everywhere. And I find the way that he sort of writes, which is used the writing is, is filled with with something else. And as I think as you read it, you sort of get a sense that there's something coming and I really love that book "Remains of the Day."Brian Bienkowski Excellent. Well, Robbie, this has been a lot of fun. I have found myself, since I met you and talk to you, reading specific environmental articles, and thinking to myself, "I would love to talk to Robbie about this." And I think that is the highest praise I can give a scientist and I hope you take it asRobbie Parks Thank you. So yeah, it's been a pleasure. Thank you.
This piece was published originally by Capital & Main. You can read their full series on the struggle for farmworker health care in California, Ill Harvest, here. Carmen Hernandez lives in a small home on Chateau Fresno Avenue, one of the three streets that make up Lanare, a tiny unincorporated settlement in the San Joaquin Valley. The street’s name sounds […]
New parents want to do what’s best for their baby and the planet when it comes to the all-important nappy change. Around the world, another 45 babies are born every ten seconds. Each of these babies will require nappies that need to be changed frequently. So it’s understandable that new parents want to do what’s […] The post The nappy dilemma: Balancing baby care and the planet’s health appeared first on SAPeople - Worldwide South African News.
New Mexico’s attorney general and its Environment Department have filed suit against the manufacturers of so-called forever chemicals, seeking monetary damages to defray the costs of environmental monitoring and cleanups that they say are inevitable
This story was originally published by Canada’s National Observer and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. A little over three years ago, a menacing fog crept into the valley surrounding the small village of Satartia, Missisippi, causing a mass poisoning. Within minutes of breathing the air, residents choked and dropped to the ground. Nearly […]
The end of the covid public health emergency highlights longstanding vulnerabilities of a technologically weak and fractured public health surveillance system.
The influence of renting compared to full ownership is twice as significant as the difference between unemployment and employment. The effects can be reversed, highlighting...
With little notice given to those working closely with the Californians who would be most impacted, a budget proposal announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom is once again leaving advocacy groups shocked and worried. During his State of the State tour in March, the governor announced that he plans to reroute money from the 2004 voter-approved […]
A new study reveals that benzene, a chemical linked to health risks, can leak from gas stoves—even when they're off
Have you heard about "One environmental health"? It's a subset of "One Health," the concept that the health of animals, humans and the environment are interconnected. One environmental health focuses on how toxic chemicals impact that shared health.In this video, discover how Dr. Wise went from studying whales in the Gulf of Mexico following the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill to comparative genomics of cancers in dogs, sea lions and people, and ultimately to researching how environmental exposures impact the health of pet dogs. Together these experiences fueled her passion for One environmental health, aiming to create a healthier world for us and our pets.Catherine F. Wise, Ph.D., Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke UniversityCatherine Wise is a postdoctoral associate in the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University investigating the role of environmental exposures and health outcomes in pet dogs; under the premise that our pets act as sentinels for human health. The concept that the health of the environment, animals and people is interconnected, known as One Health, is integral to Catherine’s approach to her research. She is passionate about how environmental exposures impact the health of animals and humans. She obtained her Ph.D. in toxicology from North Carolina State University following a Bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Southern Maine.Learn moreFollow Dr. Wise on Twitter @CFWisePhDFind her on LinkedIn here.
New modeling tool enables rapid design of effective and equitable policy combinations.
Lords committee calls for creation of advisory groups to tackle the pollutants, which may increase risk of heart disease and premature deathLight and noise are “neglected pollutants” that are causing significant harm to human health and can cause premature deaths, a group of peers have said.The science and technology committee of the House of Lords has called on ministers to do more to tackle these pollutants, which it claims are “poorly understood and poorly regulated”. Continue reading...
Smog -- caused by a combination of heat and fossil fuel emissions -- reacts with sunlight and typically increases into the afternoon and early evening.
For years, scientists across the world have gathered evidence showing declines in sperm quality. Now, new research compiling the results of those studies has found that sperm count has dropped dramatically around the world, and the rate of decline is accelerating. In a new analysis, researchers at Mount Sinai Medical Center, the University of Copenhagen, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, among others, found that sperm count globally dropped by more than half between 1973 and 2018, and that the decline is accelerating: Since 1972, sperm count has dropped by about 1% each year. Since 2000, the annual decrease has been, on average, more than 2.6%. The findings raise concerns that an increasing number of people will need assistance to reproduce, as well as concerns about the overall health of human society, since low sperm count is linked to higher rates of some diseases. And while scientists are still trying to tease out the reasons for the drop, chemical exposures, especially to pesticides, are a likely factor — and climate change may even play a role. Researchers are calling for urgent action to bolster more research into sperm count, determine the causes of the decline, and prevent further deterioration of male reproductive health. “We have clear evidence that there is a crisis in male reproduction,” Hagai Levine, lead author on the study and an epidemiologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, told EHN. An “alarming” decline The study builds on the team’s previous research, which showed a decline in sperm count in North America, Europe, Australia, and parts of Asia of 28.5% between 1973 and 2011. Adding data from 38 studies to the new analysis has made the case for sperm decline stronger, Shanna Swan, an author on the paper and a leading reproductive epidemiologist at Mount Sinai, told EHN. “It’s really alarming,” said Swan, who is also an adjunct scientist with Environmental Health Sciences, which publishes EHN.org. Swan authored the book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race. The research found that the average global sperm count in 2018 was 49 million per milliliter of semen. When a man’s sperm count drops below about 45 million per milliliter, his ability to cause a pregnancy starts dropping dramatically, said Swan. She said the results could mean that in the coming decades, large swaths of the global population of men could be subfertile or infertile, or could require assisted reproduction techniques, like in vitro fertilization (IVF), hormone treatment, or a technique called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), in which sperm are directly injected into an egg. In addition to the drop in average sperm count, Levine said it was surprising that the rate of decline was accelerating, rather than slowing down. “Is there a tipping point, that once you cross, you get an even worse situation?” he said. “That’s something to really pay attention to.” Environmental Health News · A conversation about infertility with Dr. Shanna Swan Overall, said Levine, the results indicate that “something is very wrong with our global modern environment.” Sperm count is not only a reproductive concern, but an indicator for other health problems in men, and is used as a predictor for male longevity. Men with poor sperm count tend to have higher rates of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers and even death, Michael Eisenberg, a professor of urology at Stanford University who was not involved in the research, told EHN. “This decline in sperm count could also suggest other health concerns,” he said. A 2016 study authored by Eisenberg found that diabetes and other diseases were associated with lower reproductive health. However, said Eisenberg, the reason why overall health is linked to sperm quality is still unknown. Eisenberg said the new study on sperm count decline is a “powerful addition” to previous evidence that sperm count across the globe has declined. Reasons for the trendThough the reasons for the drop were not discussed in the paper, scientists have known for decades that certain environmental factors, like exposures to pesticides (such as atrazine, alachlor, and diazinon) and other endocrine-disrupting chemicals, like phthalates, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), can have impacts on reproductive health. Nearly 20 years ago, for example, Swan and other researchers published an analysis of research into links between pesticide exposure and sperm quality, and found that 79% of studies indicated a decrease in sperm quality among those exposed to the chemicals. Diet, activity level, and stress may also play a role.Swan and Levine said exposures to chemicals in the environment and other factors likely all play a substantial role in the sperm count trend. And, the risk factors are related; for example, obesity is a risk factor for lower quality sperm, but certain endocrine-disrupting chemicals — which interfere with how hormones work — are thought to contribute to obesity, as well. Diet is hard to decouple from chemical exposures, too, since pesticide residues linger on much of the food we eat. Related: Count Down — The infertility crisisAdditionally, both Swan and Levine said climate change could be a factor, both due to climate-related stress and actual fluctuations in temperature, since heat waves are linked to decreases in sperm quality.Prenatal exposure may be a contributor, too. Chemical exposures during the male “programming window,” when reproductive traits are formed in utero, have an outsized effect on sperm quality later in life, said Swan. For example, she said, when a man smokes — a known endocrine-disrupting activity — he lowers his sperm count by about 20%. When a male is born to a woman who smokes, his sperm count is reduced by about 50%. Those effects may last for generations before subsequent children and grandchildren return to normal sperm counts.Protecting reproductive healthLevine is optimistic that scientists and policymakers can reverse the trend if they can determine the causes. Swan pointed to the sharp drop in cigarette smoking in the past 50 years as evidence that widespread lifestyle changes are possible, and said that any large-scale adoption of healthier habits, like better diets and more physical activity, can help improve reproductive health. Making individual lifestyle changes like choosing organic, pesticide-free produce and staying away from certain plastics and chemical products can help lower a person’s exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, too. However, doing so can be difficult, especially for disadvantaged populations with less access to fresh foods, higher environmental exposures, and fewer means to purchase safer, non-toxic household goods. To truly tackle the problem, though, much more research is needed, said Swan. One thing she’d like to see would be better tracking of sperm count, similar to how the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks obesity. Levine also said better surveillance tools will be crucial to understanding the problem more deeply. Once humankind “defines a problem and puts our resources and mind into it, we find solutions that we could not have thought about when we started,” said Levine. “It's always theoretically reversible.”
The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday proposed new rules for monitoring and limiting harmful emissions from chemical plants
Just seeing nature in VR brings some health benefits—and helps scientists learn why we need the real thing
A recent study has uncovered that China is a major source of nitrate radicals (PNO3) during nighttime hours, which could significantly affect the levels of...
Where government and health care institutions are absent, some communities turn to grassroots action. The post In Rural California, Farmworkers Fend for Themselves for Health Care appeared first on .
Sewage, poor sanitation and a lack of regulationcreate give to antimicrobial resistance and threaten global health, report saysPollution from livestock farming, pharmaceuticals and healthcare is threatening to destroy a key pillar of modern medicine, as spills of manure and other pollution into waterways are adding to the global rise of superbugs, the UN has warned.Animal farming is one of the key sources of strains of bacteria that have developed resistance to all forms of antibiotics, through the overuse of the medicines in farming. Continue reading...
A new Multnomah County report says homes and businesses should switch from gas stoves to electric ones because gas stoves contribute to asthma and other health issues.
Potentially lethal to fish and dangerous for humans, the summer’s toxic invader is caused by warming seas and strong windsWhen Owen Francomb from Margate set out on a walk with his dog Gertie along Kent’s picturesque Thanet coast early this month, he didn’t imagine he’d need to be rescued from a tide of toxic sludge. But on the beach at Newgate Gap, French bulldog Gertie started sinking into a thick carpet of rotting seaweed and began to panic.“She couldn’t move,” Francomb. says. “So I scrambled down the slipway and jumped down on to the beach, expecting the seaweed to be a foot deep, but it came up to my belt. I really struggled to wade through it.” Another dog walker had to help him and Gertie out of the stinking slime. Continue reading...
This June 8 webinar will present the findings of a new report documenting the harmful impacts of plastic bottles on human health, environmental justice, and climate change.Hidden Hazards: The Chemical Footprint of a Plastic Bottle explores the many health harms of plastics production, the potential health effects of consuming beverages in plastic bottles, and dangers to workers and communities from recycling and disposal.Featuring Mike Belliveau of Defend our Health. Register via the Collaborative for Health & Environment.
The study is one of few to explore the health advantages of the Mediterranean diet outside its native context and evaluate the overall health benefits...