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Guided by the values and expertise of medicine and public health, Physicians for Social Responsibility works to protect humanity from the gravest threats to health and survival. Right now, you can make a difference by registering your comments on the EPA's new Clean Power rule to limit carbon from existing coal-burning power plants. Just click the button to get started.
We are exposed to environmental toxicants every day; in our food, water, the air we breathe, and the personal care products we absorb through our skin. More than four billion pounds of the 650 chemicals in the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory were emitted in 2007 in the United States, with over 22 million pounds released or disposed of in Oregon. For some of these chemicals, such as lead and mercury, there is no known threshold of "safe" exposure, while for others we lack even basic information about risks of exposure.
Healthcare providers are uniquely positioned to identify potential exposures to toxic chemicals, help patients avoid exposures, and advocate for changing environmental health policy. However, most professionals have little or no scientific education about the impacts of toxic substances on human health, and have little experience communicating these issues to individual patients or the community. Providers need education about these health threats, clinical materials to provide anticipatory and preventive guidance to their patients, and policy recommendations to communicate the need for fundamental reform of chemicals policy for primary prevention of toxic exposures.
Oregon PSR's Environmental Health Program seeks to educate health care professionals and the interested public about these health threats, and how to protect ourselves and our communities from toxic exposures. The basic teaching modality is PowerPoint presentations, which also include guidance materials for physicians, nurses, naturopaths and dieticians, and educational materials designed for patients.
Environmental Health Factsheets and Resources
Environmental Health Presentations
“In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development” looks at the neurodevelopmental toxins lead, mercury and pesticides, and their effects of children’s health. We now know that there is no “safe” level of exposure to lead and mercury.
“Plastics and Human Health” looks at the endocrine-disrupting effects of the plasticizers bisphenol A and phthalates. The science on these toxicants is accruing rapidly, and this presentation is updated almost weekly.
“Air Pollution and Human Health” looks at the most recent science on the health effects of air pollution, which we now know affects fetal health and cognitive health as well as the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
“Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging” is a presentation based on Greater Boston PSR’s 2008 monograph of the same name. This report links industrial food systems, sedentary lifestyles, poverty and toxic exposures to the increased rates of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Recommendations at both individual and policy levels are made.
“Is It Safe? Chemicals Policy Reform” makes the case that the current system of regulating chemicals one by one is not efficient or effective for protecting human health and environmental damage. It presents policy alternatives for real reform and primary prevention of exposures to chemical toxicants.
Our Collaborative Efforts
Oregon PSR is an active and vital participant in several statewide collaborative efforts around chemicals policy reform. We are the voice of the health care community in these discussions.
Clean and Green Oregon is a coalition of Oregon PSR, the Oregon Environmental Council, and the Oregon Toxics Alliance. We are working to bring "A Call for Safer Chemicals” to mainstream “feathers and fins” environmental groups, businesses and consumers, regulatory agencies, and the concerned public.
Chemicals Policy Roundtable is a coalition of Clean and Green Oregon, Health Care Without Harm, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Department of Human Services, Metro and other public agencies. The Roundtable acts as a clearinghouse for information at the local, state and national level on pollution prevention, toxics reduction, green chemistry and other initiatives to prevent exposure to chemical toxicants.
Oregon PSR is a member of the Oregon Conservation Network, the only such group whose membership is primarily health professionals.
Join us for a Community Conversation about Chemical Exposures and Public Health: Oregon PSR, Oregon Environmental Council, and Oregon Toxics Alliance invite you to help us generate fresh ideas and share strategies to strengthen the way the United States protects the public from exposure to harmful chemicals.
Schedule a Presentation: We are happy to talk to your colleagues wherever they might be: Grand Rounds, clinic meetings or lunches, classes, meetings, or retreats. Presentations between 20 and 90 minutes can fit any time frame. We are willing to travel anywhere in Oregon or southwestern Washington.
Become a speaker: We train and support healthcare professionals to become volunteer presenters and educate their peers about these issues.
Do some research: Do you have an issue you are passionate about, that fits into our mission? Help us keep our presentations up to date, and bring the latest science on emerging concerns to our attention. Nanotechnology? Pharmaceuticals in water? Heavy metals such as manganese, cadmiumor hexavalent chromium? Biomonitoring? Military exposures? Environmental justice? These are some of the issues on our radar.
Give generously: We get grants to do our work, but we also rely on donations. Please consider Oregon PSR in your charitable giving and estate planning.
Contact: Susan Katz,MD at 503-274-2720 for more information on how you can get involved with our Environmental Health Working Group.
Environmental Health Resources
Public Health and Social Justice (Martin Donohoe, MD)