The NYC council passed two bills, The Environmental Justice Study Bill (Intro 359) and The Environmental Justice Policy Bill (Intro 886A), which will provide the city and all New Yorkers more information to identify and address these injustices. The Environmental Justice Study Bill (Intro 359) will amend the city’s administrative code to require that a citywide study of potential environmental justice communities be conducted. The results of this study will be made available to the public and placed on the city’s website. The Environmental Justice Policy Bill (Intro 886A) amends the city’s administrative code to require city agencies to develop plans to address environmental injustices in communities of color and low-income communities. The plans must be in consultation with these communities, and establishes and environmental justice advisory body, comprised of EJ advocates, to work with the city on identifying and addressing environmental injustices. Our SAB Board members, Peggy Shepard from WE ACT for Environmental Justice and Rebecca Bratspies from CUNY Law Center for Urban Environmental Law Reform spoke to the importance of the passage of these bills in a press conference with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Investing in a Robust Environmental Health System
American Public Health Association and the National Environmental Health Partnership Council collaborated to present in November, Investing in a Robust Environmental Health System (PDF), a guide to environmental health for the next Presidential Administration. Dr. Galvez, P30 Center Co-Director, is part of the National Environmental Health Partnership Council, a group of diverse stakeholders, that created this document and offered recommendations on how the federal government can help build an effective and strong environmental health system.
Dr. Perry Sheffield speaks at the Coalition for Asthma Free Homes Press Conference
On October 24, 2016, Dr. Perry Sheffield, P30 Center Member, spoke on behalf of the American Academy of Pediatrics at the Coalition for Asthma Free Housing Press Conference in support of the Asthma-Free Homes Act (Intro 385B). The Coalition for Asthma-Free Housing brought together NYC Council members, residents, environmental justice advocates, labor, medical experts, and legal counsel today to urge bold action on asthma and health inequality in the city through the passage of the Asthma-Free Housing Act (Intro 385B). The proposed legislation prioritizes prevention measures in homes of susceptible persons –residents diagnosed with asthma, COPD, or lung cancer – and requires landlords to annually inspect and correct indoor allergen hazards, including mold, pests, and underlying symptoms that may cause these conditions, such as water leaks and pest entryways. Dr. Sheffield emphasized the importance of this legislation for the most vulnerable, low-income children “We are doctors from the American Academy of Pediatrics that take care of children with asthma. Apartments or any home with lots of asthma triggers can mean more trips to the ER, more time in the hospital, and in some cases even death for those children. The Asthma Free Housing Act will support them in helping keep their children safe and healthy. That’s something from which we can all benefit.”
Hearing on Chemicals in Kids’ Products Features Children’s Health Advocates
On January 14, 2016, the NYC Council Committee on Consumer Affairs hosted a hearing on Intro No. 803-A, which would amend the administrative code of NYC to regulate the manufacturing and selling of children’s products that contain toxic chemicals. The effort to establish lower total content levels of regulated chemicals is shared by many proponents of children’s environmental health who attended the hearing, and was supported with expert testimony by COEC Co-Director Dr. Maida Galvez, an environmental pediatrician at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Many products intended for children’s use, including food/drink utensils and containers, clothing, and accessories, are not categorized as ‘toys,’ and are therefore excluded from current regulatory measures to reduce exposure to chemicals like lead, cobalt, arsenic, and other heavy metals.
Dr. Galvez Speaks at Child Safe Products Act Press Conference
On December 17, 2015, P30 COEC Co-Director Dr. Maida Galvez represented Mount Sinai at a press conference to support the Child Safe Products Act. Research conducted by Children’s Environmental Health Center researchers along with others at Mount Sinai has advanced our understanding of the role played by low dose chemical exposures in children’s growth and development, including chemicals such as arsenic, cadmium, and lead. WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Center for Environmental Health, Clean and Healthy New York, Council-member Mark Levine, and several community members were present at the press conference to express support for this legislation.
On September 16, 2015, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai hosted a delegation of Indian municipal and state-level officials, as well as disaster management, weather service and health professionals for a panel on health care facility emergency preparation and discussion. This event was led by Dr. Perry Sheffield, who has been working through Mount Sinai Global Health in the development of Southeast Asia’s first extreme heat event plan in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India (http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/11/4/3473). Mount Sinai has partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council and Public Health Foundation of India-Indian Institute of Public Health on this initiative, which has gained international attention and is expanding nationally in India.
NY State Network of Centers of Excellence in CEH Share Highlights in Albany
On September 1, 2015, the New York State network of Centers of Excellence in Children’s Environmental Health (nyscheck.org) met with Dr. Howard A. Zucker, NYS Commissioner of Health, and Dr. Nathan Graber, Director of the Center for Environmental Health at the NY State Department of Health, to share highlights from across the network. Members in attendance included Drs. Ruth Lawrence and Richard Miller from the University of Rochester, Dr. Robert Amler from NYMC, Drs. Maida Galvez and Philip Landrigan from Mount Sinai, Dr. Anika Clarke, a pediatric resident from Elmhurst Hospital, Dr. Cappy Collins from Stony Brook, Saima Anjam from EANY, and Karen Miller from HBCAC. That evening, Dr. Landrigan appeared on an episode of Capital Talk to discuss the state’s important role in protecting children’s environmental health. In addition, he was interviewed by Susan Arbetter on an episode of the Capitol Pressroom, during which he explained his stance on GMO food labeling and discussed state funding for Centers of Environmental Health.
Mount Sinai Hosts Lancet Commission Report on Climate Change and Health
This summer, Mount Sinai Hospital hosted the US launch of the report by the Lancet Commission on Health and Climate called “2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change: Policy Responses to Protect Public Health”. During the panel, several leading health professionals discussed key findings of the report and the medical need for urgent action on climate change. PEHSU pediatrician Dr. Perry Sheffield was among the distinguished panelists, with opening remarks by Dr. Philip Landrigan. To read more about the report, please click here.
Photo Credit: Climate Nexus.
CEHC Pediatricians Testify at Noise Pollution Hearing
Drs. Lauren Zajac and Thomas Hays from the Children’s Environmental Health Center (CEHC) at Mount Sinai testified at a City Council hearing on June 25, 2015 in favor of City Council Bill Intro 420. The proposed bill would limit ambient classroom noise to 45 dBA when construction sites are located within 75 feet of a school. In their testimony, Drs. Zajac and Hays highlighted important health repercussions of prolonged exposure to elevated noise levels in children, and the adverse effects of noise pollution on learning, memory, and academic performance. Under the provisions in the new bill, noise mitigation would be the responsibility of developers and would be regulated and enforced by the Department of Environmental Protection.