204607 Do environmental policies actually protect public health? Developing indicators of policy impact

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 3:24 PM

Thomas A. Burke, PhD, MPH , Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Eileen A. Murphy, PhD , New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Trenton, NJ
Beth Resnick, MPH , Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Mary A. Fox, PhD, MPH , Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
The fundamental goal of our environmental policies is to protect public health and the environment. Are they working? Recent EPA Reports on the Environment provide a comprehensive national level profile of key environmental indicators. These indicators have documented marked improvement in the pollution levels for some pathways and contaminants. However, most measures report compliance with standards rather than actual concentrations, exposures, or health risks. Furthermore, the data for many of these national indicators are only available for recent years and progress at state and local levels is not documented. This limited data hinders capacity to assess long-term trends and public health impacts of major environmental policies implemented during the 1970s and 1980s. After being identified as the state with highest overall cancer mortality in the 1975 Atlas of Cancer Mortality for US Counties, New Jersey established the Office of Cancer and Toxic Substances Research within the Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). NJDEP investigations provided some of the nation's first multimedia data on toxics and demonstrated models of policy change. For example, the early statewide evaluation of groundwater revealed wide ranging presence of toxic contaminants and provided the impetus for advancement of state and federal safe drinking water actions. Working in collaboration with NJDEP our project will develop environmental health indicators both before and after the implementation of major environmental policies to assess long-term trends and public health impacts. We will describe the project aims, the conceptual framework, key policies and target pollutants, the risk assessment approach and progress to date.

Learning Objectives:
List major environmental policies on air, water, and hazardous waste management Name three pollutants of public health importance Discuss state and federal roles in environmental public health protection

Keywords: Environmental Health, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a co-investigator on this research project. I have experience researching and teaching environmental risk assessment for policy-making. Fox MA, Groopman JD, Burke TA. (2002) Evaluating cumulative risk assessment for environmental justice: a community case study. Environ Health Perspect 110(Suppl 2): 203-209
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.