Mimi MusaToday’s guest blogger is Olubukolami “Mimi” Musa, program associate in environmental health at APHA’s Center for Public Health Policy. She writes about her team’s contribution to children’s environmental health at this year’s Annual National Environmental Health Association Educational Conference.

Last month, the National Environmental Health Association’s 2019 Annual Educational Conference brought together hundreds of environmental health professionals from around the U.S. in Nashville, Tennessee ⁠— for training, education, networking and advancement in the field.

During the three-day event, attendees looked at how local voices from diverse sectors can harmonize into one universal language of environmental health. The APHA Center for Public Health’s environmental health team attended the conference to promote our children’s environmental health project, which works to protect children from environmental health hazards.

The team’s session “Protecting the Health of Children: A National Review of Environmental Health Services,” highlighted our study on the availability of information about children’s environmental health services in the U.S.

For the study, we conducted a 48-state scan of department of health and environmental quality websites and collected local stories at community forums in Flint, Michigan, and Washington D.C. The study report notes that community engagement and coordinated efforts between, within and across agencies and organizations could enhance a universal language that would link services with the people who need them.

Session attendees echoed the importance of the APHA study and its report findings and recommendations, such as the need to increase information about services available to caregivers of children within and outside of the home ⁠— like lead testing and asthma control.

“…I’m glad you’re working on this project, it further highlights the importance of my work and the need for more resources to address environmental health issues children face in schools and child care settings,” said an attendee, who works with schools.

Other sessions at the conference also focused on children’s environmental health issues. One highlighted how states like Michigan and New Jersey work with partner organizations to reduce the number of children and mothers exposed to lead. Another session highlighted the implementation of state-based safe siting initiatives to locate child care facilities away from exposure to toxicants.

It reinforced the importance of our project goal to ensure that children’s environmental health services are available to all, thereby, creating an equitable system at the local, state and federal levels that affords every child a safe environment to live, learn and play.

The NEHA 2019 Annual Educational Conference was a great opportunity to showcase and speak about APHA’s Center for Public Health Policy work in the children’s environmental health space. The team benefited from networking with and hearing from other professionals working on similar issues in the field. We look forward to more opportunities and partnerships to protect our children and enhance their health and well-being.

Photo courtesy Saintelmophotography.com