The Pump Handle is a place for people interested in public health and the environment to discuss the issues that interest us, particularly when they’re not getting the treatment we think they deserve in the mainstream media.

The story of the pump handle is familiar to any first-semester public health student: During the London cholera epidemic of 1854, John Snow examined maps of cholera cases and traced the disease to water from a local pump. At the time, the prevailing theory held that cholera spread through the air, rather than water, so Snow faced criticism from others in the science community – not to mention resistance from the water companies. He finally convinced community leaders to remove the pump’s handle to prevent further exposure.

More than a century later, thousands of people still die from cholera each year, and providing clean drinking water to the world’s entire population is a far-off goal. The Pump Handle symbolizes both a public health victory and the challenges facing the public health and environmental fields today.

Most of this blog’s founding members are epidemiologists from the US, and we’d like to bring in writers from other disciplines and places. If you’re interested in contributing to The Pump Handle, please send an email to thepumphandle [at] gmail[dot] com. If you’d like to subscribe to our weekly email digest, send an email with “subscribe” in the subject line to that same address.

 Click here to read about our contributors.