TNH OctoberNote: This article appeared in the October 2015 edition of The Nation’s Health, APHA’s newspaper.

When Megan Weil Latshaw describes herself as an environmental health practitioner, many people assume she spends her days in the forest tracking endangered species. Most of the time, they have no idea that the efforts of Latshaw and her fellow environmental health professionals impact nearly every aspect of their daily lives.

“Their first default is that I’m a tree-hugger or I’m trying to save the polar bears,” said Latshaw, PhD, MS, chair-elect of APHA’s Environment Section and director of environmental health programs at the Association of Public Health Laboratories. “Then the idea of ‘health’ evokes the idea of personal decisions, like not smoking and exercising. But environmental health is so much more than those two things put together…these (practitioners) work every day to keep us healthy, and people don’t even know who they are or what they do.”

Despite the field’s central role in protecting the basic fundamentals of health — such as safe water, food and air — environmental health work remains a mystery to the average American. To address this knowledge gap, APHA partnered with the FrameWorks Institute in 2011 to uncover new ways to communicate about environmental health that resonate with the public and engage people in productive policy discussions. This year, the two organizations released “Framing Environmental Health,” a collection of research, sample communications and messaging recommendations that offers environmental health practitioners new strategies for talking about their work and its connection to healthy communities.

Continue reading this story online in The Nation’s Health.

 

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