Online Program

State role in environmental policy development: Case studies from “cancer alley”

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 10:50 a.m. - 11:10 a.m.

Mary A. Fox, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Thomas A. Burke, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD

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. New Jersey DEP investigations provided some of the nation's first multimedia data on toxics and demonstrated models of policy change. Our project aimed to document the interplay of state-level developments in NJ and federal environmental policy initiatives beginning in the 1970's and to examine through case studies the influence of selected policies from their enactment to the present. We discuss the ways in which state efforts laid the groundwork for national regulations and policies. Case studies of mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls and trichloroethylene drawing on NJ environmental water and biota monitoring data were developed. The cases reflect different environmental problems and policy approaches and show varying public health impacts. We discuss the implications of this history in the evolution of environmental policy development. The results underscore the importance of maintaining strong capacity for environmental health at the state level. Most importantly they provide indicators of environmental and public health progress in reducing emissions, lowering population exposures, and contributing to a broader public health strategy to reduce cancer incidence in “Cancer Alley”.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related public policy

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

Keyword(s): Environmental Health, Public Policy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the co-investigator on this project and developed the case studies of policy impact using risk assessment methods.
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.