“There’s definitely a cry here — all of us know we need to be doing better,” Nsedu Witherspoon, executive director of the Children’s Environmental Health Network, told a group of public healthers attending a Saturday Annual Meeting session on Public Health and Chemical Exposures in the 21st Century: Moving from Conversation to Action. “We really encourage you to think outside the box. Think creatively.”
And for the next hour, attendees broke into small groups and did just that. The target was to find ways to move forward on the recommendations of “Addressing Public Health and Chemical Exposures: An Action Agenda.” Some session attendees discussed ways to improve public health education and engagement, others talked about ways to expand health professional capacity or highlight community health and wellness. This blogger sat in on a discussion that focused on prevention and emergencies.
“There’s stuff in this action agenda for all of us to do,” said APHA member Montrece Ransom, who helped lead the discussion at one table.
And when it comes to existing activities that can be harnessed in the effort to reduce harmful chemical exposures, “some of them are big elephants, and we have to consider little bites,” Ransom said.
Christopher Portier, director of the National Center for Environmental Health, suggested the idea of a smartphone app that would allow consumers to scan a code in the store and find out how that paint, cleanser or other product fared on an environmental toxin scale. Other ideas included a one-stop shop for public health workers interested in environmental health issues and coordinated efforts to lay out best practices in limiting children’s exposure to toxic chemicals.
APHA’s Environment Section plans to continue the conversation during their 8-11:30 a.m. Sunday Business Meeting in Renaissance Meeting Room 16, and you’re invited. A workgroup to address the specific issue of moving the action agenda forward could help “make sure this doesn’t just stay on clipboards,” Witherspoon said.
Above, Christopher Portier, director of the National Center for Environmental Health, talks about ways to prevent harmful chemical exposures. Photo courtesy Jim Ezell/EZ Event Photography