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Study offers a snapshot of services available to the public.
Washington D.C., March 6, 2019 – A new report, “Protecting the Health of Children: A National Snapshot of Environmental Health Services,” presents findings from the American Public Health Association’s study on the availability of children’s environmental health services in the U.S. Results show gaps, largely in services that would directly benefit the health of children.
Overall, states inform the public about environmental health issues to a greater extent than they offer information about the environmental health services they provide. Information is more limited on the hazards of prenatal environmental exposures, endocrine disruptors and on services in schools. And states are more likely to make information available for services that are mandated by federal environmental health laws and policies.
“The environmental health field is critical to our nation’s public health, and children’s environmental health services are crucial for protecting one of our most vulnerable populations,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, executive director of APHA. “This report and its recommendations are an important step toward getting families and caretakers the services needed to keep America’s children healthy.
Following member outcry over the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, APHA consulted subject matter experts to identify 210 environmental health services that should be provided systematically to families and caregivers for children nationwide. Researchers conducted a national scan of state departments of health and environmental quality websites to determine if these services are available. And they visited communities in Flint and Washington, D.C., to hear directly from families and service providers.
Designed for environmental health professionals, decisionmakers and community members, this report demonstrates the challenges ahead, steps we can take together and ways we can communicate children’s environmental health issues and services to increase public understanding and knowledge.
“By ensuring children’s environmental health services are available to all, we are collectively creating an equitable system for our children and for generations to come,” said Surili Patel, deputy director of the APHA Center for Public Health Policy, which conducted the study. “We have a long way to go. This groundbreaking APHA effort is one of many steps that champions of children’s environmental health can use to protect our children and their future.”
The report is available on the APHA Children's Environmental Health webpage. It was made possible with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and launched with a Feb. 28 webinar on the topic.
APHA champions the health of all people and all communities. We strengthen the public health profession. We speak out for public health issues and policies backed by science. We are the only organization that combines a nearly 150-year perspective, a broad-based member community and the ability to influence federal policy to improve the public's health. Visit us at www.apha.org.