Category Archives: environmental health

Taking Action to Address the Public Health Impact of Wildfire Smoke

By Alan Vette, Acting Director, Air and Energy National Research Program (ORD), United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Erika Sasser, Director, Health and Environmental Impacts Division (OAQPS), EPA

This story originally ran in NACCHO’s Essential Elements blog.

During Air Quality Awareness Week (April 30 – May 4), a focus on wildfire smoke is timely for public health because the 2018 wildfire season is about to begin for most of the U.S., and it has already started in some areas.

Exposure to wildfire smoke is a community health issue that has gained the attention of public health professionals and organizations, especially in states where fires are becoming more frequent and intense. Wildfire smoke has significant health implications for those near the fire as well as for those living farther downwind. Continue reading

Are America’s Local Health Departments Prepared for a Cape Town-level Water Crisis?

This story originally ran in NACCHO’s Essential Elements.

Americans currently use about 100 gallons of water per day per person. In Cape Town, South Africa, extreme drought has limited residents to just 13 gallons of water per day since February 1. Depending on rainfall over the coming months, water taps in households and businesses may shut off entirely in this popular tourist destination, one of the wealthiest cities in Africa. Continue reading

Understanding the Changing Public Health Landscape: Findings from the 2017 Forces of Change Survey

The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has released its 2017 Forces of Change report, The Changing Public Health Landscape, containing new findings on the forces that are affecting the nation’s local health departments (LHDs). LHDs face both challenges and opportunities as the public health environment evolves, and the Forces of Change survey helps to identify infrastructure gaps, as well as strategies for strengthening public health capacity. Continue reading

NACCHO Partners with the EPA to Advance Environmental Health at the Local Level

epa-mou-group-cropped-293x300By Anastasia Sonneman, NACCHO Communications Specialist

This story originally ran in NACCHO’s Essential Elements blog.

The first month of 2017 marked the beginning of a very exciting and timely collaboration, between NACCHO and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Dr. Thomas Burke, EPA Senior Advisor and Deputy Assistant Director for the Office of Research and Development, hosted NACCHO leadership at the agency’s Washington, D.C.-based headquarters to sign on to a Memorandum of Agreement (MOU), committing to join EPA efforts to advance environmental health, particularly with a focus on local communities and public health. Continue reading

A Look Back: The Best of NACCHO Preparedness

prep-highlights

By Anastasia Sonneman, NACCHO Communications Specialist

This story originally ran on NACCHO’s Preparedness Brief.

The year 2016 brought a whole new meaning to the importance of public health emergency preparedness. From the onset of Zika virus disease to international acts of violence related to terrorism, to the worst global migrant crisis since World War II, NACCHO has worked diligently in collaboration with many of its members and partners to enhance the capacity of local health departments (LHDs) to protect and increase the resiliency of their communities. As we enter the new year, many of NACCHO’s preparedness-related projects can still serve as a valuable resource to local preparedness staff. With this in mind, the NACCHO Preparedness team compiled the following list, highlighting a selection of the year’s featured programs, events, resources, and tools. Continue reading

Earth Day 2016: Addressing the Health Effects of Climate Change at the Local Level

By LaMar Hasbrouck, MD, MPH, Executive Director, NACCHO

Celebrating Earth Day provides an opportunity for local health department (LHD) leaders and staff to reflect on and plan for the health effects of climate change. Climate change is already having global impacts; LHDs are on the front lines of ensuring the health and safety of their communities and will face a plethora of local-level challenges brought on by climate change in the future.

Climate change will significantly impact the health of communities. The World Health Organization estimates that between 2030 and 2050, climate change will cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year.1 Climate change is predicted to bring about an increase in heat-related illnesses; poorer air quality; an increase in droughts, forest fires, and brush fires; and more frequent and intense storms and floods. It will also affect issues such as food security and water-, food-, and insect-borne diseases. Continue reading

DOH-Orange Partners with Hospitals to Conduct Specimen Collection and Testing for Zika Virus

zikaThe following post was originally published on NACCHO’s Healthy People, Healthy Places blog. For more information about environmental health and infectious disease, visit http://essentialelements.naccho.org/.

As local health departments prepare for cases of Zika in their communities, creative solutions and partnerships are necessary to control the spread of the virus. With recent outbreaks of Zika in the Americas, the number of Zika cases will increase and imported cases could result in local spread of the virus in some areas of the United States.

In the following interview, Sarah D. Matthews, MPH, Epidemiology Department Program Manager at the Florida Department of Health in Orange County (DOH-Orange), shares how her health department is engaging in a public-private partnership to test for suspected Zika virus cases. Thanks to existing partnerships with Florida Hospital and Orlando Health Systems, DOH-Orange has been able to build the capability to support medical providers with resources to facilitate the collection and shipping of appropriate specimens to the state’s lab for Zika virus testing.

Q: How does DOH-Orange collaborate with hospitals during the specimen collection and testing process for Zika?

A: Since Florida receives a lot of travelers from Zika-affected countries, on Feb. 3 our Governor Rick Scott directed the State Surgeon General to declare a public health emergency for the counties of residents with travel-associated cases of Zika. Continue reading