Influencing the built environment in your community.

Author:Heishman, Hilary
Position:Environmental Health Services Branch
 
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Editor's note: NEHA strives to provide up-to-date and relevant information on environmental health and to build partnerships in the profession. In pursuit of these goals, we feature a column from the environmental Health Services Branch (EHSB) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in every issue of the Journal.

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In this column, EHSB and guest authors from across CDC will highlight a variety of concerns, opportunities, challenges, and successes that we all share in environmental public health. EHSB's objective is to strengthen the role of state, local, and national environmental health programs and professionals to anticipate, identify, and respond to adverse environmental exposures and the consequence of these exposures for human health. The services being developed through EHSB include access to topical, relevant, and scientific information; consultation; and assistance to environmental health specialists, sanitarians, and environmental health professionals and practitioners

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Hilary Heishman is a CDC Prevention Specialist. Andrew Dannenberg is the Associate Director for Science in the Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services, where he oversees the health and built environment group that is exploring links between community design and public health.

As discussed in the July/August issue of the Journal of Environmental Health, environmental health specialists at Colorado's Tri-County Health Department, as well as at health departments in other states, have expanded their traditional land use program activities (Roof & Glandon, 2008; Roof & Maclennan, 2008; Roof & Oleru, 2008; Roof & Sutherland, 2008). In addition to giving developers required reviews about issues such as air quality and wastewater management, environmental health specialists now comment on issues such as access to physical activity, pedestrian safety, and noise. These environmental health specialists have built relationship with planning departments in Colorado's Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas counties, and have become more engaged in city planning.

Tri-County's environmental health specialists do this because residents' health is affected by the way a community is designed and built. As public health professionals, we can broaden our ability to protect persons and prevent injury and disease by improving where we live, work, shop, and play.

Yet improving places to protect public health is not a new...

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