Healthy soil contains organic matter that contributes to the nutritional quality of food and can have a significant impact on agricultural output. It also plays a critical role in mitigating the effects of climate change by reducing erosion and storm water runoff, protecting against drought and reducing carbon emissions. Policymakers at both the federal and local level are increasingly including laws and provisions that promote healthy soils in their environmental policies and legislation.
Public health leaders have criticized a recent U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) proposal that would place an increased burden on those seeking to prove discrimination in housing practices. While the HUD proposal moves through the regulatory process, another federal agency, the Department of Justice, continues to do its part to prevent discrimination in housing and punish those who engage in unfair and illegal housing practices.
In 2019, several states passed strict laws limiting access to abortion. Some state laws specifically aim to overturn the seminal case, Roe v. Wade. Proposed legislation modeled after the Voting Rights Act seeks to require states with a history of restricting access to abortion to preclear any new abortion law with the Department of Justice before such law or practice can take effect.
The medium through which an environmental exposure occurs (e.g., water, air, soil) is often geographically based and/or clustered. For this reason, responding to an environmental health threat in a meaningful and timely way requires real-time, granular data and prompt local action. The broad range of potentially relevant environmental health data sources highlights one of the key legal challenges with obtaining and using local data: often each type of data (hazard, exposure and health outcome) is governed by a different law and may be collected by a different entity.
Syringe service programs (SSP) are places where people who inject drugs (PWID) can receive new syringes and other injection equipment and drop off used supplies. They typically also provide other harm reduction and health promotion services including referrals to treatment, hepatitis C and HIV testing, the overdose reversal medication naloxone, and other related services. Nevertheless, SSPs are controversial due to stigma around PWID and many states prohibit the use of state funds for the operation of SSPs.
Public health law and policy stories that made headlines recently include expanding Medicaid access post-postpartum to improve maternal mortality rates; how changes in naloxone access laws could save thousands of lives; Juul’s suspension of flavored e-cigarette product sales amid growing scrutiny of its advertising practices; how proposed food-stamp cutbacks could worsen obesity and food insecurity in the U.S.; and a landmark ruling on supervised injection sites.
Approximately 37 million Americans lack dependable access to enough food to live healthy lives. The health effects of food insecurity are particularly pronounced for children, putting them at increased risk for mental health disorders, chronic disease and impaired cognitive development. Current proposed changes to the Federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides qualifying households with funds to purchase food, would put millions of children at risk of experiencing ongoing food insecurity.
Title X is the only federally funded program for low-income patients exclusively dedicated to providing family planning and preventative services, including contraception and screenings for breast cancer, cervical cancer and STDs. Title X serves some four million people a year, most of them women. However, recent rule changes threaten to severely limit women’s access to these essential services.
Human exposure to waterborne illnesses will increase as climate change creates more extreme precipitation events that drive harmful pollutants that into fresh waters used for drinking, bathing, swimming, and boating. Rising global temperature is also predicted to promote the growth of pathogens and toxic algae blooms in freshwater. Communities recognizing these threats are establishing adaptation plans and policies to prevent increased risks to human health as the climate changes.
Supervised consumption spaces (SCS) allow people who use drugs to consume those drugs in a controlled setting, under supervision. SCS provide safe injecting equipment and other health supplies and, in most cases, also provide services including medical care, counseling, and referrals to drug treatment. While many states have taken steps towards authorizing or implementing SCS, the federal government has taken a strong stance against them.