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Welcome to PSR's Environmental Health Policy Institute, where we ask questions -- then we ask the experts to answer them. Join us as physicians, health professionals, and environmental health experts share their ideas, inspiration, and analysis about toxic chemicals and environmental health policy.

  • The Wolf in Zero Carbon Clothing
    Posted on January 25, 2011

    An historic crossover took place in North Carolina in 2010: the cost of electricity per kilowatt hour generated from photovoltaics (PV), after steadily falling for decades, rivaled that of nuclear power. After 2010, PV electricity is projected to be less expensive in the state than that of nuclear, with a trend of rapidly divergent costs between the two energy sources. Read more »

  • Roll Up Our Sleeves and Get Started: A solutions-oriented approach to climate and energy policymaking from PSR Arizona
    Posted on January 13, 2011

    Policy making at the Federal level has been frustratingly bogged down with political agendas that have virtually halted the implementation of a progressive- and solutions-oriented clean and renewable energy bill. Read more »
    2 comment(s)

  • It’s the Communication, Not the Science
    Posted on January 13, 2011

    The challenge of integrating scientific evidence into climate and energy policy choices and then taking action stems from two problems: 1) climate change is not an immediate and tangible crisis and 2) we live in a democracy. Read more »
    7 comment(s)

  • The Health Community Should Reframe Climate Change as a Human Health Issue
    Posted on January 13, 2011

    The public health implications of climate change are already soberingly clear, at least to the small number of experts who have carefully studied the issue. Dr. Georges Benjamin, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, has concluded that: “Climate change is one of the most serious health threats facing our nation.” Read more »
    3 comment(s)

  • Understanding Climate Deniers
    Posted on January 13, 2011

    The physical evidence for climate change has been accumulating for decades. So has the scientific documentation. Why then do so many people not believe that climate change is real? Read more »
    3 comment(s)

  • Can Psychology Solve this Climate Conundrum?
    Posted on January 13, 2011

    From antiquity, philosophers and theologians have thought that we are not always rational creatures. They assumed that we are fundamentally driven by our passions, most strikingly shown during falling in and out of love, and that reason by itself is often too weak to control those drives. Read more »
    3 comment(s)

  • A Promising Path to Sustainable Green Chemistry: Nature as model, measure, and mentor
    Posted on December 16, 2010

    Nature is alive with chemistry. Many Americans would be surprised to learn that the natural world is replete with chemistry and chemicals. It goes against their assumption that chemicals are a man-made blight on an otherwise chemical-free natural world. Nothing could be further from the truth. Read more »
    2 comment(s)

  • Downstream Users Change the Course of Chemicals Production
    Posted on December 16, 2010

    Downstream from chemical manufacturers is the vast part of our economy that uses chemicals by virtue of the products they purchase. They range from formulators to component producers to manufacturers to retailers to health care institutions to individual consumers. These are the “downstream users” that are changing the course of chemicals production. Read more »

  • Protecting Human and Environmental Health Through Rational Chemical Design
    Posted on December 16, 2010

    For the past 12 years, The 12 Principles of Green Chemistry by Anastas and Warner have provided a cohesive set of design guidelines for integrating sustainability in the chemical industry. Read more »

  • The Limits of Technological Solutions
    Posted on December 16, 2010

    Technology is a blessing as it brings us many wonderful things including improvements in human health. It is also a curse that provides opportunities for excessive exploitation that ultimately damages human and environmental health. Read more »
    1 comment(s)

  • Putting the Public into Alternatives Assessment
    Posted on December 16, 2010

    Progressive health experts, community leaders, and workplace safety specialists have long recognized the need to replace dangerous chemicals with safer ones in order to protect human health and the environment. Read more »
    1 comment(s)

  • The Role of Green Chemistry in Primary Prevention
    Posted on December 16, 2010

    There is a fundamental connection between public health and the principles of Green Chemistry – both are rooted in the core of public health practice, which is primary prevention. Primary prevention is about eliminating in the inherent hazard in any given situation, and thereby making the risk moot. Read more »

  • Stopping the Use of Toxic and Unnecessary Flame Retardant Chemicals Will Protect Our Health and Environment

    Lurking in our couches, nursing pillows and televisions are pounds of toxic flame retardant chemicals. These substances are from the same family and similar in structure to organohalogen pesticides such as DDT, Dieldrin and Mirex. Read more »
    8 comment(s)

  • The Military Enterprise as Global Polluter
    Posted by H. Patricia Hynes on November 4, 2010

    Environmental health policy on military issues has tended to focus on select human health impacts of war, such as Agent Orange exposure; on select weapons, such as landmines and nuclear weapons; and on discrete military-related hazardous waste sites. The military enterprise as a whole is generally untouchable and unaddressed. Read more »
    3 comment(s)

  • Nanoparticles: a case study of the importance of chemical policy reform
    Posted on November 4, 2010

    Chemical policy reform has been and remains the most important policy priority. We cannot continue the unsustainable practice of regulating or banning one chemical at a time. Reform of the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act is essential for establishing a more rational approach to managing the introduction of new chemicals or classes of chemicals into commerce and subsequent human and environmental exposure. Read more »
    4 comment(s)

  • Endocrine Disruption, Public Health, and National and International Security

    From a national and international security perspective endocrine disruption should be right at the top of our list of concerns. Wait a minute, you ask, what is endocrine disruption? Well, endocrine disruption is the insidious trespass of man-made chemicals into every vital organ system in your body that comprises or is controlled by the endocrine system, such as the thyroid and parathyroid, pancreas, adrenals, thymus, male and female reproductive organs, the heart, digestive system, and skeletal system -- all the systems that participated in how you were constructed in the womb and how you are functioning today. Read more »
    5 comment(s)

  • Cell Phones: a new environmental hazard that can be reduced

    Could cell phones possibly be harmful? When I first heard this possibility, I rejected it. After all, it is physically impossible for the weak non-ionizing radiation of cell phones to break the bonds that hold our cells together. While cell phones use the same frequency of radiation as microwave ovens, they use more than two thousand times less power. Read more »
    7 comment(s)

  • The Abuse of Scientific Uncertainty
    Posted by Michael McCally, MD PhD on October 7, 2010

    The present moment is a gloomy one for attention to urgency of climate change. In July of 2009, cap and trade legislation failed definitively in the US Congress. The Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the initiative of 187 nations to control greenhouse gas emissions, died in Copenhagen in December of 2009. The opponents of action on climate change have successfully abused the notion of scientific uncertainty to create doubt and justify inaction. Read more »

  • Making Precaution Our Default Policy
    Posted by Lin Kaatz Chary, PhD MPH on October 7, 2010

    Many of us in the public health community, and especially those working in environmental health professions, have come to the conclusion that our current approach to addressing scientific uncertainty, which is inevitable, has not been successful and must be changed. Read more »

  • Uncertainty should not delay public health protections

    We need to acknowledge and address uncertainty without letting it paralyze our decision-making process as we strive to protect human and environmental health. Read more »

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