It’s been a busy last two weeks in terms of conferences. Now it’s time to catch up on your enviro public health reading over the weekend.
The IoM (Institute of Medicine) has recently produced several interesting reports about the intersection of environment and human health. Global Development Goals and Linkages to Health and Sustainability, released on September 30, summarizes workshops conducted via webinar following the September 2012 establishment of the Global Environmental Health and Sustainable Development Innovation Collaborative by the IoM Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research, and Medicine. This collaborative seeks to provide a place for discussing sustainable development and for sharing scientific information across the United Nations (UN) system entities, international and governmental organizations, academia, the private sector, and civil society and across a variety of fields related to sustainable development, including economics, energy, environmental medicine, public health, and health communication. The report chronicles lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals process and offered insights on topics and goals that may be considered for global development frameworks being debated and negotiated. Note also this report, Public Health Linkages with Sustainability, released by IoM in July 2013, that was prepared in advance of the Rio +20 meeting in 2012. It emphasizes the intersections between sustainability and toxicology, noncommunicable diseases, energy options and air quality, food and water resources, occupational and childhood health, and the role of climate change and urbanization across these topic areas.
Finally, as debate in the U.S. and around the world about hydraulic fracturing continues, Health Impact Assessment of Shale Gas Extraction, released at the end of August, summarizes a 2012 IoM workshop aimed at discussing the human health impacts of shale gas extraction “through the lens of health impact assessment,” an important public health tool that is increasingly being included in legally mandated environmental reviews. As the report summarizes, “the governmental public health system lacks critical information about environmental health impacts of these [hydraulic fracturing] technologies and is limited in its ability to address concerns raised by federal, state, and local regulators, as well as employees in the shale gas extraction industry and the general public. . . . Health impact assessments provide a structured process that uses scientific data, professional expertise, and stakeholder input to identify and evaluate the public health consequences of policy and program proposals. The Roundtable held a workshop in 2012 to examine the state of the science regarding shale gas extraction, the direct and indirect environmental health effects of shale gas extraction, and the use of health impact assessment as a tool to help identify the public health impact of shale gas extraction.”