Environmental Council of States

Public Health and Environmental Protection

By supporting health professionals and embracing our obligations to promote public health and protect our planet, we can uphold our shared responsibility to preserve the promise of a happy and healthy life for our children and grandchildren.
–President Barack Obama

By Tom Burke

Portrait of Tom BurkePresident Obama recently marked National Public Health Week with a Proclamation noting the inextricable link between public health and protecting the planet.  As the Agency’s Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Research and Development, making that connection is my number one goal.

I am committed to ensuring that what our scientists and engineers learn continually flows to those who can put it to use: public health officials and their partners. At EPA, we are not satisfied until our science has positive impact on protecting drinking water, lowering risks and impacts from environmental exposures, and bringing the benefits of a cleaner environment to every community and citizen.

Luckily, I have a lot of support. I am privileged to work in a place surrounded by some of the world’s leading environmental and public health researchers. They are the go-to experts for every environmental and health related challenge our nation faces. From ongoing efforts to address climate change to the emerging concerns of the potential spread of the Zika virus, EPA scientists and engineers are working tirelessly to protect public health. And what they learn is not only meeting the most immediate threats to public health, but advancing healthier, more sustainable communities for our children and grandchildren.

A great example of how we build partnerships unfolded just this morning when Administrator Gina McCarthy announced that EPA, the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS), and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) signed a Memorandum of Agreement to work even more closely together to share information and advance public health protection in the United States. Read more about that exciting news in her blog post, Expanding EPA’s Partnerships with State Health and Environmental Experts.

Watching EPA science reach those who need it most is one of the best parts of my job. While I enjoy that work every day, President Obama’s remarks about National Public Health Week and our partnership with ECOS and ASHTO remind me to stop and savor it just a bit more than usual.

About the Author: Thomas Burke, Ph.D. is the Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Research and Development as well as the Agency’s Science Advisor. He served as the Jacob I. and Irene B. Fabrikant Professor and Chair in Health, Risk and Society and the Associate Dean for Public Health Practice and Training at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health before coming to EPA. Before his time at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Burke was Deputy Commissioner of Health for the State of New Jersey and Director of the Office of Science and Research in the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Pollution Prevention from Local to National

By Angela Miller

Three years ago I relocated to Washington, DC from Michigan to work for the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR). Growing up along the Lake Michigan shoreline and near several inland lakes nurtured my reverence of nature and its connection to humanity. The community I grew up in was as well known for its natural beauty as it was for its history with pollution and toxic chemicals. Two lakes that are listed as Areas of Concern and a Superfund site all within a short drive of my childhood home inspired me to take up a career in environmental protection.

Working with NPPR, a national member based non-profit which provides a national forum for promoting the development, implementation, and evaluation of efforts to avoid, eliminate, or reduce pollution at the source, has afforded me an opportunity to work on a national level to prevent pollution problems like those that plagued my hometown during my childhood.

NPPR’s projects, especially those of recent, have focused on toxics reduction and elimination.
NPPR was awarded this summer a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grant from the U.S. EPA to, among other project tasks, pilot a Safer Chemistry Challenge Program (SPPC) in the Great Lakes region. Another recent project is co-sponsoring the “2012 National Training Conference on the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) and Environmental Conditions in Communities” along with the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) and the U.S. EPA. Our co-sponsorship of this exciting conference provided the context for which EPA’s Office of Environmental Information invited me to participate in this Greenversations Blog. The April 11 – 13, 2012 conference will focus on pollution prevention (P2) and using Toxics Release Inventory data to promote sustainability. A call for abstracts deadline is November 19. Projects such as those bring me back to childhood aspirations to reduce or eliminate toxics that are released in communities to preserve both nature’s splendor and human health.

About the author: Angela Miller is the Deputy Director of the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.