To reduce costs and meet increased demand for services, many local health departments (LHDs) are looking for innovative ways to improve efficiency, meet accreditation standards and reduce costs by sharing service delivery and other functions with other LHDs and entities. State interlocal agreement acts permit LHDs to enter agreements with other entities to provide health services. The Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreements Map shows the laws currently in effect in all 50 states.
In 1975, California issued a rule that established a fire-resistant standard for furniture upholstery, and manufacturers responded by adding chemicals known as flame retardants to their products. Many of these products made their way into homes across America. Recent evidence links some of these chemicals to negative health effects, including cancer. Corey Davis at the Network’s Southeastern Region examines the health risks, and the new standards that may put an end to toxic flame retardants.
Public health emergencies can create a massive strain on state, tribal, and local health department resources, and often emergency response personnel are in short supply. The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Reauthorization Act of 2013 (PAHPRA) allows health departments to temporarily reassign federally funded personnel stationed in their departments to respond to a public health emergency.
Many children participate in school activities during the holiday season where a variety of foods and treats are offered. For children with food allergies, eating the wrong thing can be fatal. In recent years, there has been a push from both state and federal legislators to require, or at least encourage, schools to stock auto-injectable epinephrine to be used on any child experiencing allergic reactions.
Public Health Department Accreditation
The Network was recently contacted by a local public health department seeking accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). The health department asked about tools to help fulfill the requirements for Domain 6, standard 1.1 of the PHAB accreditation standards, which states that health departments must “review existing laws and work with governing entities and elected/appointed officials to update laws as needed”.
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A new interactive map detailing laws and regulations governing water quality issues associated with increased drilling and hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas, or fracking, in 11 states was released recently on LawAtlas.org. Wastewater discharges, hydraulic fracturing fluid releases, and other accidental spills pose potential water quality risks in areas where these technologies are being used.
To usher in the new year, the Network has updated our website to better serve the public health community. We’ve made it easier to get assistance, find resources and learn about new developments in public health law and policy. Website visitors can also access training webinars and read about fellowships and other opportunities in the field.
In 2005, Washington State passed a smoke-free law that prohibited smoking in public places. Since then, the increased presence of hookah lounges and e-cigarettes, and the legalization of marijuana have presented new challenges to enforcing the law. On December 17, the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice will host a webinar in which health officials will discuss how they plan to approach these new challenges.