NEHA 2018 AEC WRAP-UP: Building Bridges, Bonds, and Benefits.

Author:Ashley, Jonna
Position::National Environmental Health Association annual educational conference - Conference notes

NEHA 2018 AEC and HUD Healthy Homes Conference

Anaheim * California * June 25-28,2018

The NEHA 2018 AEC and HUD Healthy Homes Conference, presented by Green & Health Homes Initiative, proved to be an exciting, groundbreaking, and very successful event. This year, NEHA cohosted the conference with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), bringing together more than 1,500 environmental health professionals to discuss and learn how their peers work with multiple agencies, industries, and levels of government to build bridges, bonds, and benefits to ensure the safety of the public and environment.

The 2018 AEC took place June 25-28 in sunny Anaheim, California, which provided the perfect atmosphere and energy for the over 1,500 environmental health professionals who attended. Kicking things off was a fireside chat with HUD Deputy Secretary Pamela Hughes Patenaude, which was moderated by NEHA Executive Director Dr. David Dyjack. Patenaude highlighted the importance of ensuring adequate resources for healthy housing and protecting families by promoting the prevention of hazards in the home.

Next up was Frank Yiannas, vice president of food safety and health for Walmart, who delivered a powerful Keynote Address to a packed house of 1,100 attendees. Yiannas discussed the importance of thinking about human behavior and how it relates not only to food safety but also all of environmental health. "The future of environmental health is both high tech and high touch. We have to also change human behavior. It's all about helping Americans live better," he stated.

The 2018 AEC offered a record 320 educational sessions spanning 4 days, covering 10 informative tracks (plus tracks from HUD and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Environmental Health) on emerging environmental health issues such as emergency preparedness, food safety, water quality, and healthy homes and communities. Over 450 speakers and presenters from around the globe were featured. The Exhibition was packed with 55 exhibitors from a wide range of industries. With so much diversity and variety, there was something of interest for every attendee.

Each year, AEC attendees look forward to the social events and this year did not disappoint! Underwriters Laboratories (UL) hosted another exciting UL event, this time at Angel Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Angels baseball team. Over 850 people attended the Good Vibrations! Reception, enjoying festive music, dancing, and food from various California regions (we're told the In-N-Out Burger line was long the entire time!).

We would like to thank HUD for its hard work in helping to make the 2018 AEC so successful. HUD has become more than a cohost of the event--we have become proud partners in advancing the field of environmental health. Thank you!

We also want to thank our attendees, members, staff, presenters, exhibitors, and sponsors. Without you the conference could not be possible.

We look forward to seeing everyone next year in Nashville, Tennessee, for the 2019 AEC. Check out the 2019 AEC promo on page 59.

Anaheim, California


Fireside Chat

A Fireside Chat with HUD Deputy Secretary Pamela Hughes Patenaude, moderated by NEHA Executive Director Dr. David Dyjack, kicked off the 2018 AEC's opening night events. "Identifying the addressing housing hazards that have an impact on the health of children and families is a top ppriority," Patenaude expressed. She answered questions from the attendees ranging from disaster relief effects to onsite wastewater.

Keynote Address

Frank Yiannas, vice president of food safety and health for Walmart, educated and entertained during the Keynote Address titled, "Food Safety = Behavior." He focused on how behavior science can be utilized to advance workplace behaviors to create sustainable food safety practices and overall, environmental health. Yiannas stated that the NEHA AEC "was a wonderful opportunity to build working relationships between industry and environmental health agencies."

Opening Panel

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials presented the Opening Panel Discussion. Seema Dixit, director of the Division of Environmental Health, Rhode Island Department of Health; Dr. Chris Rustin, director of environmental health, Georgia Department of Public Health; and Dr. Rick Kreutzer, chief of the Division of Environmental and Occupational Disease Control, California Department of Public Health, discussed emerging environmental health issues and prioritization in their respective states, coordination with local and state health departments, and the skills necessary to be a successful environmental health professional.

Grand Session Kickoff

RADM Dr. Stephen Redd, director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, delivered the Grand Session Kickoff for the educational sessions with an informative and inspirational presentation on disaster relief efforts and the importance of environmental health. "As a runner and a swimmer, I like to compare a public health response to a race," said Dr. Redd. "Like a race, an emergency response requires preparation and endurance. You must be able to hold a steady pace that will get you to the finish line, but there are times when you are required to sprint, to learn on your feet, and to respond to changes as they are thrown at you. The key to entering the race is being mentally and physically prepared to take on the challenge and commit to getting to the finish line."


The 2018 AEC educational program demonstrated the need, importance, and benefit of environmental health professionals working together across issue silos, agencies, and levels of government. As such, NEHA staff and technical advisor created an educational program that featured 320 educational sessions and more than 450 speakers, including representatives from a variety of countries around the globe, that covered the wide scope of environmental health issues and topics. The educational program highlighted the idea that in order to ensure and improve the protection of the health and environment of the public, we must all continue to research, educate, and cross boundaries to work together.

This year's conference welcomed its biannual partner and cosponsor, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, whose educational sessions focused on a large variety of healthy home topics including lead poisoning, prevention and awareness, air quality and asthma, land reuse and sustainability, and climate and health.

Educational sessions on emergency preparedness were well received featuring sessions related to Hurricane Harvey, wildfire health risks, and the management of natural disasters. The food safety aspects of cannabis were discussed to standing room only crowds.

We wish to thank the presenters, attendees, and the many volunteers who moderated the sessions to keep the 18 educational rooms running smoothly over the course of the 2018 AEC. We also thank the 20172018 NEHA technical advisors who were tasked with reviewing the submitted abstracts--over 400 were submitted--to assist us in putting together the 2018 AEC's educational program.

Closing Session

"Opening the Big Black Box: Partnering With Public Health Laboratories to Address Community Environmental Health Programs" was the 2018 AEC's Closing Session, which was hosted by the Association of Public Health Laboratories. Public health testing needs, the importance of high quality defensible data, and how environmental health...

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