NEHA 2009 AEC & Exhibition: Atlanta, Georgia

Journal of Environmental Health, October 2009 | Go to article overview

NEHA 2009 AEC & Exhibition: Atlanta, Georgia


NEHA brought its 73rd Annual Educational Conference & Exhibition to Atlanta, Georgia, this past June. What an event it was!

Judging by the high marks that were given by conference attendees on their evaluations, this AEC & Exhibition proved to be yet another stimulating and rich experience for the 1,000-plus people who attended it.

This year's conference was particularly noteworthy given the special relationship that NEHA enjoys with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In fact, one of the major reasons that NEHA brought its conference to Atlanta was so that NEHA could incorporate many CDC features into the event, including tours of CDC's campuses and visits with CDC officials. NEHA deeply thanks the CDC for its support and involvement.

NEHA will return to Atlanta later this year (in October) as a co-sponsor of the hugely important CDC NCEH/ATSDR National Public Health Conference. NEHA encourages its membership to seriously consider attending this event as well, as it will further enhance the continuing education experience that environmental health practitioners need to have. Highlights from this year's conference are summarized as follows.

Keynote Presentation

"Sustainability: A Crucial New Role in the Ever Evolving Practice of Environmental Health"

This year, NEHA was honored to have as its conference keynote speaker Dr. Howard Frumkin, MD, MPH, DrPH. Dr. Frumkin is the director of CDC's National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH)/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).

Dr. Frumkin gave a stirring keynote address that made a compelling case for why environmental health needs to be involved in issues related to global warming, sustainability, and the built environment.

Through the use of numerous examples, Dr. Frumkin explained how the design of our communities translates into various health consequences. He urged professionals in environmental health to tune into these issues and to become more involved in the facets of community design in their respective jurisdictions.

A particularly interesting side piece within his presentation dealt with the sensitive topic of risk communication. He pointed out that if environmental health professionals presented their work with dire warnings and threats, it would be unlikely that many people would hear the message. Without sacrificing the point of the message, he implored professionals to be careful about how they present information. He emphasized that if we succeed in getting a person to hear us, we have a much better chance at implementing change than if our audiences tune us out.

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The measure of a successful keynote tends to be the extent to which people use the keynote presentation as a reference point for conversations afterward. In this case, attendees were heard referring to Dr. Frumkin's speech for the remainder of the conference. Clearly, he had hit the mark with NEHA members. Now we'll see how many have returned home to stake out meaningful roles for environmental health in the sustainability, global warming, and built environment issue!

Association Business

At the AEC & Exhibition, important business meetings of all kinds take place. Two of the most important for NEHA are the board of directors meeting and the General Assembly. The summaries below present highlights from both of these meetings.

Board of Directors Meeting Highlights

The NEHA board of directors meets four times a year. One of these meetings is always held at the association's annual conference. Highlights from this year's board meeting include the following.

1. A special Certificate of Merit Award was authorized for Captain Craig Shepherd on the occasion of his retirement from active duty following a 30-year career in the Public Health Service.

2. The board engaged in a discussion with the executive director of the Association of Environmental Health Accredited Pro grams, Yalonda Sinde. …

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