Magazine article The Nation's Health

Playbook Charts Path for Making Environmental Services Stronger

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Playbook Charts Path for Making Environmental Services Stronger

Article excerpt

WHEN IT COMES to basic needs such as safe drinking water, clean air and food safety, environmental health services play a critical role in the U.S. But despite their importance, the nation lacks a coordinated environmental health system, potentially putting the health of Americans at risk.

A new report from APHA and its partners maps out ways that policymakers, health workers and advocates can help build a stronger, more coordinated environmental health system. Released this spring by the National Environmental Health Partnership Council, the "Environmental Health Playbook: Investing in a Robust Environmental Health System" draws attention to the importance of environmental health and makes the case for strengthening government agency services.

"Governmental environmental health services are not a luxury--they are essential," said the report, which calls for enabling "federal, state, local and tribal governments to promote resilient, equitable and healthy communities." There are numerous opportunities for actions that can boost environmental health, according to the report. For example, the federal government can create a cohesive surveillance system to collect and track hazards, exposures and health outcomes. Building a well-trained, skilled workforce is also beneficial, as is creating policies that are based in science.

Recent major environ mental health emergencies show the need for a strong nationwide system. The Zika virus outbreak--with more than 41,000 cases reported in U. …

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