Maryland Environmental Health Network
Function of Organization/Site:
The Maryland Environmental Health Network convenes diverse stakeholders in the fields of health and environmental advocacy, research, and community activism, to support cross-sector education, dialogue and action that results in better protection of both human health and the environment.
Vision: We envision a Maryland where children and adults enjoy clean food, air and water, and benefit from safe environments in their homes, schools and communities.
Mission: The Maryland Environmental Health Network seeks to improve the health of Marylanders by minimizing exposures to environmental threats and toxic chemicals, by promoting effective environmental legislation and institutional policies (including enforcement), and by advancing environmental health equity throughout Maryland.
Network Role: We function as a hub and connector where health professionals and environmental groups exchange information and build common cause to become effective environmental health activists. MdEHN seeks to contribute to a broad social movement of activism that demands a fair, safe, healthy, equitable and sustainable Maryland.
Values: In all of these endeavours, we seek to incorporate the experience, perspectives, and involvement of people and communities most affected by pollution. We are guided by science and research in developing our advocacy stands and solutions. We understand that the solutions are complex and sometimes imperfect. We work in partnership with others who share our commitment to a healthier Maryland.
General Internship: Students can volunteer to intern with MdEHN on a general basis, becoming involved in our monthly meetings, strategic planning work, and partner projects over a period of time. This would give a student an overview of the work of a small non-profit, engaged as a change agent in moving policy and practice to be better aligned with research and science. This kind of internship would allow the student hands-on opportunities to help with meeting planning, develop parts of presentations, work on our website content, and make other concrete contributions.
Topical Internships: The following issues are ripe for exploration in a targeted way. A student can choose to explore the topic through telephone interviews, internet research, literature reviews, in-person meetings, and working with the staff, partners and advisors of MdEHN. MdEHN staff have significant resources and reference materials for the student to work with and would guide the exploration.
· Fracking: researching the studies, data, and peer-reviewed literature on health implications of many aspects of the natural gas industry, including proposed gas wells (fracking), infrastructure (pipelines and compressor stations), and export facilities in Maryland
· Air Pollution and Asthma: questions include - Indoor Air Quality initiatives, what is known about cost/benefits? Linking community air quality to population health status. Developing health information and communications to empower communities to address disproportionate impacts such as highway and marine traffic, siting of industrial plants, etc.
· Water Contamination: communities have relatively little understanding of how human health and the health of waterways and their ecosystems are related. Translation of known health issues from contaminated waters into community terms.
· Pesticide Data Reporting: a 2013-14 task force will assess the value of creating a pesticide information database in Maryland. Opponents argue that the reporting requirements will be onerous and the database expensive. Proponents need to articulate the return on the investment in the form of public health protections. Compiling examples of how the database would be used for specific future human and environmental health research.
· Incineration and waste-to-energy issues: Maryland has allowed incineration of trash to be deemed a renewable energy source. This is a misguided policy and needs to be reversed. Compiling existing information about kinds of incineration and their toxic emissions and discharges. Making the health case for eliminating incineration as a renewable energy source. Researching the policies that other states have enacted (ex. Delaware) to protect children from exposure to incineration sites.
· Heat island effect: As part of the campaign to address climate change in Maryland, we know that health threats are of great concern to the general public. What was Maryland’s experience with heat island effect and heat waves in the past few years? How much did it cost us to open cooling stations? What excess mortality did we experience? Putting these facts into a form that affected (mostly inner city) communities can understand and use.
· Synthetic turf: County recreation departments and school systems are starting to view artificial turf as a good investment. Parents and health advocates are pointing out that the effects of kids being exposed to ground up recycled tires and other mystery materials should be assessed. What is known about the health impacts of artificial turf on playgrounds and children’s athletic fields? A white paper on this issue, including describing the extent to which this is a current issue in Maryland.
Maryland Environmental Health Network can be accessed via public transportation.