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Dear readers,

We’re doing something different with this month’s post.

Robert F. Herrick of the Harvard School of Public Health wrote an excellent article on polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) exposure in schools, which was published in the most recent issue of New Solutions. This article has been made available for free download by the journal’s publisher, Baywood Inc.

The piece has already sparked some dialogue on the testing and regulation of PCB exposure for school maintenance workers, who are pegged with the important task of removing potentially toxic material that may be damaging children’s health. David M. Newman of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health (NYCOSH) wrote a response to Dr. Herrick’s piece, in which he addresses major gaps in policy and practice and the need for a strong labor presence to take the lead in demanding necessary worker protection.

Dr. Herrick responded by outlining some of the research done on PCB exposure among construction workers.

Below you can find the abstract of Dr. Herrick’s piece, as well as the following responses.

We now ask you, readers, to add your two cents. What needs to be done to further address the issues of public PCB exposures, as well as occupational hazards for those pegged with the task of clean up?


Mara Kardas-Nelson
Editor, New Solutions: The Drawing Board

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By Alice Shabecoff

Watching each of our five grandchildren and their friends enter this world and begin their life’s journey, it became more and more clear that something is amiss with their generation. How are your children and your friends’ children doing?
Most likely, one out of three of the children you know suffers from a chronic illness.  Perhaps it’s cancer, or a birth defect; perhaps asthma, or a problem that affects the child’s mind and behavior, such as Downs Syndrome, a learning disorder, ADHD, or autism.  Though one in three may sound exaggerated and unbelievable, the figures are there amidst various government files. 

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This is the first piece of a new series featured on The Pump Handle. New Solutions, A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, is taking their work from the world of print to an online medium, posting once-monthly blogs about environmental and occupational research, activism, advocacy, and campaigns. To read more about New Solutions: The Drawing Board, click here.

Dear readers,
We are Alice and Philip Shabecoff, authors of Poisoned Profits—The Toxic Assault on Our Children (Random House, 2008), a book about the effects of everyday toxins on the health of American kids. We are reaching out to you, who engage with the fields of environmental and occupational health as professionals, students, concerned parents, and/or active community or union members, to ask for strategies to motivate and kick-start a public health movement to create a healthier and more sustainable society. What can be done to get through to ‘the people’?  How can we capture attention away from “America’s Top Model” and break through the stranglehold of industry PR? We look to you—policy makers, researchers, community activists, professors, doctors, union leaders and members, concerned parents, interested students—to brainstorm and help lead this movement. What can be done to not only inform, but also effectively enrage so that tangible action occurs, and occurs soon?

On the assumption that you are knowledgeable and creative, and that you do not easily give up just because the fight is difficult, we write to ask your ideas, opinions, and advice.

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