Thursday, August 17, 2017: 12:45 PM-2:15 PM
Environmental health is the branch of public health which concerns itself with aspects of the built and natural environment that have the potential to affect human health. Emergencies such as the Zika virus outbreak, Flint, Michigan drinking water crisis and Hurricane Katrina show the impact environmental health issues can have on vulnerable populations. Pregnant women and their fetuses are most vulnerable to Zika. Those living in under-resourced neighborhoods were most exposed to lead-contaminated drinking water in Flint. And many low-income households have been unable to recover several years after Hurricane Katrina(APHA,2016). Gaps in environmental public health practice could be partly ameliorated by an increased focus on environmental health promotion and the involvement of professionals with diverse specialties and competencies. Forward-focused and meaningful improvements in population health are largely be achieved through collaborative efforts at the intersection of professional disciplines, both those traditionally involved in this area as well as emerging influencers. Since environmental health must address the societal and environmental factors that impact exposure and disease, innovative thinkers and leaders should identify and enter the space between public health and the clinical professions, veterinary medicine, climatology, geology, cultural anthropology, resiliency, in addition to the usual and customary partners. Recent history reveals that society and influencers are increasingly making decisions based on their values and beliefs, and are less anchored in evidence. Enhancing awareness and integration of the principles of environmental health practice into the public health arena requires professionals involved in population health to be part of the conversation.
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