CHE Partner Forum: Call for Ideas and Comments

Dear CHE Partners,

We want your ideas! We’re in the process of evaluating various aspects of CHE’s services and initiatives and generating potential new ones. Given we are indeed a collaborative partnership, your innovative suggestions as to what CHE might do (within our mission, below) to address gaps or needs you see in the environmental health field would be genuinely welcome.

To facilitate this, we’re opening this Partner Idea Forum, a platform where you can offer your ideas. This one is interactive in that you can see, respond to and build on other partners’ suggestions.

As a major learning community for the field, CHE wants to do even more to serve our partners around the world. Please take a few to submit your thoughts. We’ve pulled some comments from recent surveys and posted them below to start the conversation, but feel free to start a new topic.

As with all comments to this blog, civil and respectful dialogue is expected. Please identify yourself as you submit comments. If you prefer to submit private comments that won’t be shared on this blog, please send them to us at info@healthandenvironment.org.

Note this Partner Idea Forum will stay open only until December 15th, so please get your ideas in soon!


Mission

The Collaborative on Health and the Environment’s (CHE’s) primary mission is to strengthen the science dialogue on environmental factors impacting human health and to facilitate collaborative, multifactorial, prevention-oriented efforts to address environmental health concerns. Founded in 2002 as a program of Commonweal, CHE is an international partnership of almost 5000 individuals and organizations in 87 countries and all 50 US states, including scientists, health professionals, health-affected groups, nongovernmental organizations and other concerned citizens, committed to improving human health across the lifespan.

CHE’s primary activities include:

  1. Sharing emerging scientific research on various  environmental factors that can contribute to disease and disability;
  2. Fostering interdisciplinary and inclusive collaboration among diverse constituencies interested in those links; and
  3. Facilitating effective actions to improve health across the lifespan.

CHE is nonpartisan and does not endorse specific policies. Anyone sharing CHE’s mission and supporting its Consensus Statement is invited to become a CHE Partner.

CHE has created graphical representations of the scope and structure of our work, shown at right and below (click on the graphics for larger versions).

CHE Administrative Graphic

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34 thoughts on “CHE Partner Forum: Call for Ideas and Comments

  1. From a CHE listserv survey: “My favorite part of being on a CHE listserv is when list members engage in some discussion or debate over how to construe a development or a finding, since I really value the opinion of the list. There are some wonderful experts on the listserv. However, there isn’t enough of this discussion. Sometimes it feels as though a relatively few people contribute to the listserv (which is not atypical for such lists), and it’d be good to hear from a more diverse variety of thinkers. I am not sure how to overcome this challenge.”

    • I thank you for allowing this forum.

      I write in hopes of assistance in exposing a much neglected nationwide risk from dry chemical fire extinguishers. Most of these extinguishers today contain nano sized zeolite, which has recently been linked with mesothilioma at Sloan Kettering Hosp. Many other harmful products may be included in dry chemical fire extinguishers and other products up to 1% quite legally under the Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA). These ingredients allowed under RCRA may include heavy metals, previously banned chemicals, hazardous waste, radiation, and certainly nano materials.

      According to UK reports not one single dry chemical fire extinguisher should be used indoors due to health and property damages. However, here in the USA, there exits a fire fighting method referred to as “Chimney Bombs”, where multiple expired dry chemical fire extinguishers are emptied into plastic sandwich bags and dropped or poured down chimneys in order to fight chimney fires. This process can equal contamination of a home with 20 or more fire extinguishers at once rendering the home impossible to return to a pre fire condition and causing risks from chronic exposures to nano particles and dry chemical fire extinguisher.

      There is no single agency on a federal, state or local level that is regulating or warning the public in regards to dry chemical fire extinguishers in general or specifically the unapproved and inappropriate use of “chimney bombs”. I have have anecdotal reports of death, ALS, hearing loss,vertigo, neurological , lung, and eye injuries, and pet deaths after the use of chimney bombs. It does seem that both homeowner’s insurance companies and fire restoration services are aware of these issues as they have had experience in paying for damages and attempting to clean up after chimney bombs. However, Insurance companies are not warning their policy holders of these risks and seem to be directing their preferred fire restoration companies not to admit or inform homeowners of these dangers or potential damages from corrosion in order to avoid more expensive needed replacements. Instead cleaning methods are employed that merely spread the contamination to make it difficult to detect but impossible to remove.

      I include a report (download) that may be helpful in understanding the problems associated with dry chemical fire extinguishers in general. To comprehend the risks from “chimney bombs” consider these same risks multiplied on an exponential basis.

      I hope to hear the thoughts of others on this risk and how best to address the diagnosis and treatment of patients, how to inform the public, what lab tests should be done to test for dry chemical extinguishers, potential dangers from nano size ingredients such as zeolite and silicone as well as proprietary ingredients. I feel something must be done as essentially every branch of the federal, state and local governments recommends the use of dry chemical fire extinguishers for indoor use and no one attempts to stop the use of “chimney bombs”.

      Sincerely,

      Elizabeth O’Nan
      Director
      Protect All Children’s Environment
      396 Sugar Cove Road
      Marion, NC 28752
      Phone: 828 724 4221
      Email: pace@mcdowell.main.nc.us
      Website: http://www.main.nc.us/pace

  2. From a CHE listserv survey: “Could there be an annual face-to-face get together?”
    CHE responds: Please consider including specific topic ideas and intended outcomes as well as proposed size and potential funding sources if you can.

  3. From a CHE listserv survey: “I think CHE Integrative Health is the only place on the CHE site where an honest discussion about HOW to decrease the human chemical body burden is happening. Otherwise CHE is an excellent source of info about toxicant exposures in the life cycle. It is devoid, however, of solutions that we as healthcare providers can use to address the conditions caused by these exposures. Could more ‘solutions’ be more incorporated in some way?”

    • I love the idea of more solutions. I think CHE listservs help determine what we know there are solutions for and what we don’t through the discussions. But this comment makes me think about the CHE database. I love the database, but would love more information about it on the dbase home page (How often is it updated? Who updates it? What criteria determine the strength of the connection?). Also, perhaps we could either add an entirely new dbase, links to other dbases (I think of ewg.org), or a section in this one with papers related to reducing exposure to chemicals (both scientifically peer-reviewed, and possible others that meet certain rigorous criteria (i.e., solutions backed by references in scientifically peer-reviewed journals – thinking of Sayer Ji’s greenmedinfo), or even a list of books that the community decides are useful reading on the topics of exposure and solutions.

      • Thank you for this thoughtful comment full of specific ideas. We will be having a much larger conversation about the database as we go through this process. We appreciate hearing what Partners would find useful/helpful. To see the database: http://www.healthandenvironment.org/tddb

    • I totally agree. As a nonprofit advocacy group, we are working for systems change/transformative solutions to reduce toxic exposures–but we can’t get away from the demand for “news you can use” — things consumers and individuals can do to reduce exposures. But I find that, while there are many practices to promote (dust, vacuum with a heap filter, ensure good ventilation) there is far less discussion and data on the efficacy of specific interventions and household strategies for toxics reduction. I’d love to see a more robust discussion and learning sessions.

  4. From a CHE listserv survey: “I think a number of the CHE listservs could be collapsed. I don’t want any of the information I receive to go away, but I subscribe to most, if not all, of the listservs, so certainly there is a lot of crossover. I would collapse them into something like a handful of servers like this, if you are planning on doing away with a few of them: *Acute health issues (cancers – all types and other health problems with the assumption that you will die from them; cancer could be considered chronic for some) *Chronic health issues (autism, ADHD, etc. – health issues you can live with, if not well) *Science (all of the environmental pollution issues that impact our health, including climate change, air and water pollution, soil health, etc., and throw in study bias and other general issues of how science is conducted). *Other (working groups, special concerns).”
    CHE responds: Please let us know if you think the listserv system works as it does or needs to be collapsed.

    • As a subscriber to both the cancer and breast cancer listservs, I would happily agree to a single cancer forum. There is a fair amount of overlap, for which some of us cross-post. Would some prefer to have a distinct place for hormone-related cancers? Given how many of us now survive cancer and how broad the category already is, I would vote for just cancers and not include other topics.

  5. CHE has an honorable record of bringing to light corporate insults to our health. But I can’t help but think of the largely bogus “awareness” campaign of usually corporate-sponsored breast cancer groups; many of us have come to realize that “awareness” has not stemmed the epidemic. We are, in fact, “aware” enough. What we need is action. We need to be fearful. We need to be threatening to those who are putting us in harm’s way. That old childhood taunt of “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me” comes to mind. I think we’ve done it with words. And things continue to get worse as we continue to churn out even more words. Maybe it’s time to think more about those sticks and stones, though I have to admit that I don’t know how to do that.

    • I agree with Judy and think the public needs to be more educated here on what is causing the epidemic with both awareness and calls to action. On a CHE Alaska call, someone from Breast Cancer Action spoke, and there was a great visual of an hourglass with the caption “Toxic Time is Up” – I love it. Something simple like that needs to have broad reach into the public, together with education and calls to action. In the categories of protecting ourselves, but also to encourage & direct the consumer outcry which is driving and can drive corporate change. Is CHE a place where a discussion like this can take place among interested members?

  6. I noticed that one of the focuses mentioned was mental health. I am an alcoholic in recovery, and have been at peace for a little more than four years. I am currently attending college, seeking accreditation in substance abuse counseling. In addiction, we are not in a place of well-being – especially emotionally and spiritually. I certainly was not. I believe that in order to keep ” IT “, you have to give ” IT ” away. It is a difficult topic to touch on to be sure. The facts are, a lot of people share similar circumstances with substance(s), behaviour(s) or both. Harm reduction, can certainly be a huge part of recovery, and the “Science” behind this concept certainly could certainly help a lot of people and their families. Thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts.

    • Thank you Leo. While substance abuse specifically isn’t a topic CHE addresses, we are interested in the role of environmental exposures (of which substances of all kinds could perhaps be considered) on mental health. We run a listserv on the topic. See: http://www.healthandenvironment.org/initiatives/mh. It is a relatively small list, and the science is slowly emerging. We would be interested in thoughts you and others Partners have on that listserv and working group. What specific topics would be useful to know more about? Are there additional resources we could add to the working group’s webpage? Etc. We appreciate you engaging in this forum.

  7. I think CHE should reconsider its position on not taking positions. When the evidence of health harm is clear, CHE should provide members not just with information, but also with opportunities to advocate for solutions.

    • Thank you for this very helpful comment, Wendy. I see other comments touching on the same subject. We’ll see what other ideas are generated. We’re particularly interested on thoughts about how to maintain CHE’s mission to be a civil and neutral forum for discussing the best environmental health science while also being able to point Partners toward solution/action opportunities. Further ideas on this topic are most welcome.

  8. Of all the health crisis happening today, nothing destroys more quickly and completely than the damaging radio frequency microwaves from wireless radiation. This atrocity is happening in our very schools. It is urgent our nations leaders step up and take immediate action against this. Lives are being damaged as we speak. Schools have become a silent battleground and our children and teachers are its casualties. Why is it that two hundred (a growing list) countries have put a moratorium on wireless in schools whereas we, a nation of independence, run in the opposite direction in line to the tune of the industry’s bells and whistles, working only to increase the toxic levels of this carcinogen in our children’s schools?! The CHE needs to effect change and put pressure on schools and legislators to get this genotoxic carcinogen out of our children’s learning environments.

    • Thank you. We would be interested in knowing if the CHE EMF Working Group and those interested in this topic would like additional resources available on the group’s webpage. See: http://www.healthandenvironment.org/initiatives/emf (perhaps resources specific to schools, for example?). If there are specific speakers which we might invite to speak on calls? Other specific ideas for raising the awareness re: these issues, both within CHE and beyond?

  9. This last spring I witnessed a very effective method to counterbalance industry power. LA RICS was set to install cell towers on every first responder facility (police, sheriff and fire stations) in the Los Angeles area. This was part of a First Net program that would provide wireless service to all first responders. The Firefighter’s Union was able to ensure that no cell tower is ever placed on a fire station due to RF health risk alone.
    (see resolution: http://citizensforaradiationfreecommunity.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/IAFF-Resolution.htm)
    In Sacramento, in one of the committee hearings for AB57, a revision was made to the bill to exclude fire stations as plausible sites for cell towers.
    What do firefighters have that children in schools or the rest of the population doesn’t have? They have political pull. Their endorsement wins races and passes bills. What I feel is missing in our country is a power that counterbalances that of industry. We need an entity similar to a Firefighter’s Union, an entity that is grounded in science that will lobby our government for environmentally safer options, that will endorse campaigns of leaders who stand for the safety of children and the environment, that will endorse laws promoting the health of children and environment. Just like firefighters and powerful industries can sway government decisions so must this powerful entity. This entity can be a people’s union or a children’s union funded by citizens concerned for their health and the environment and backed by the science of CHE.

    • This is an important subject which not enough people are discussing out there. I find it hard to defend my own comments. In addition to the schools issue Lena brings up, I have noticed that hospitals are putting in wireless networks as well. I agree with Rola that groups with political pull have to be engaged, and ways to raise the issue without causing people to be defensive are needed. There are some simple tips like: If you have wireless in your home, turn it off at night and make sure it is really necessary. OR Turn off the wireless on your smart phone and turn it on only when you need access. These are not being communicated. One idea is that CBS News had a good length prime time spot on electro-hypersensitivity, and I heard they have done more, so I’m thinking someone on their executive team is attuned to it. Perhaps reaching out to someone there to partner? I am not yet a member of the EMF working group, so I can’t speak to what is being discussed. But a discussion or project about how to engage groups with power/influence or political pull would be great.

  10. I THINK WE MUST INSIST IN THE QUALITY OF THE WATER WE DRINK. AS IT WILL WE ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT RESOURCES OF THE WORLD, TAKES ANOTHER IMPORTANCE.
    ALSO, THE PRODUCTS WITH EAT WITH TRANSGENICS, MUST BE NOTICED CLEARLY IN THE PACKS.

  11. Hello
    I am so grateful to this forum for the information it provides me as a physician. There are a dearth of organizations that focus efforts on this subject matter and we are underrepresented in legislative processes. Is there any way to incorporate more action and awareness to grow the movement using the information that is gathered. A strategic focus on outreach to the public and to legislators would assist in accomplishing this goal. Also, the importance of nutrition and the way we as a society grow and distribute our food cannot be overstated as it impacts every environmentally related illness and climate change and the environment.
    Thank you for considering my opinions AND for the wonderful work you are already doing! I am so grateful to this collaboration.
    Regina Zopf, MD, MPH
    Reginazopfmd.com

    • Thank you, Regina. We are interested in how continuing to connect with the medical community on these issues. Nurses associations in particular have been some of the most responsive groups. We will add this to our discussion list, and welcome any specific suggestions on how CHE might better bring the science to physicians/hospitals/community clinics, etc. Or bring those communities more into CHE’s work? What resources do medical professionals need specifically? What are the major barriers to bringing environmental health science into clinical work?

  12. Received via email and shared with permission:
    I am only a relatively recent member and it may be that I don’t understand the way your searchable database works but it seems only to show the strength of the evidence linking a chemical to a condition.

    Does the database also provide the abstracts of the studies relating to the chemical and condition? And if not, could it please? That would be truly useful!

    Many thanks,
    Rachel Nicoll

    • Thank you Rachel. The Toxicant and Disease Database, as you can imagine, is a large undertaking. Currently we have been able to update it only once every several years. We will be discussing how to continue this service in the future and we welcome further comments on what would make the database most useful to CHE Partners. See: http://www.healthandenvironment.org/tddb

  13. Received via email and shared with permission:
    I am a subscriber to the CHE-EMF group. I would really like to have a forum on what is happening around nanotech in consumer products and covering nanobiotechnology. This is important as nanoparticles have been allowed in the food supply (as coloring agents) since 2002 when the FDA approved them as GRAS (as they did with GMO’s). Contrary to popular belief, nanoparticles are not prohibited in organic foods, and many consumer products now contains nanoparticles (sunscreens, toothpaste, cosmetics). There was no oversight of any kind regarding nano in pesticides until 2012, and basically everything was grandfathered in (so all the approved in ingredients in Round-up can now be nanoscale), and only novel nano architectures like nanotubes and fullerenes require approval by the EPA. Nano materials are now also in many prescription drugs (like Retin A creams that use C20 fullerenes) and people are totally unaware of all this. The reports coming in from nanotoxicologists are not good (see particleandfibretoxicology.com)

    Another reason to include nanobiotech in a health and environmental forum is that there is a convergence of technologies occurring between nanotech and wireless radiation, and it is happening very fast. People are brushing their teeth every morning with toothpaste, or putting on sunscreens both of which contain titanium dioxide nanoparticles (which are used as semi-conductors in the building trades) and then holding microwave transmitters and receivers up to their heads and being forcefully bathed in microwave radiation where ever they go. This may sound paranoid, but this is what the Singularity is all about- the interplay of wireless and nanotech.

    There are very few groups covering what is happening with nanotech and a CHE forum would be a truly great needed addition.

    Thank you for your time in considering my comment.
    Melinda McComb

    • Thank you, Melinda. We are certainly interested in hearing about what topics CHE Partners would like us to address–either new topics or expanding topics we currently cover. If other Partners have ideas, please share them here. Nanotech…what else?

  14. CLINICAL ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE is a definite area of expansion for this group. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine should be thought of as a source of speakers, topics and clinical information about health effects of EMF, Chemicals, Mold, GMO foods, as well as immune, neurologic, mitochondrial, hormonal changes in people so affected. It is time for this group to embrace those doctors and patients who have learned about this field because they developed incapacitating Chemical Sensitivity as it is the ultimate outcome of exposure – if not worse neurologic or immune disease etc. (I had mito damage and an ALS type picture).

    Some of us recover and to tell the story and I am here when and if the group would like to expand into the clinical realm. We need to teach this in medical school and college and transform the health care system into a proactive system which strives to get the the cause of disease and illness.

    I lecture nationally on this subject and have participated on CDC national Conversation on Chemicals and Public Health and currently on Roundtable on Building and Health at NIH. Speaking at NIEHS in the coming month and Environmental Health Centers of Excellence and EPA in the recent past.

    University of Pennsylvania Medical School Lecture – an Intro to Environmental Medicine is a good first step for anyone interested in learning the history and Approach of Environmental Medicine. http://www.lisanagy.com

    The Environmental Health Center of Martha’s Vineyard
    Office 508 693 1300, cell 310 213 5472 after work til 10 pm or on weekends is best, lisa@nagy1.com for comments or questions

  15. The Website ‘Toxipedia’ is the home of in-depth, accessible information on the impacts of hazardous substances on health and society. Toxipedia includes a family of websites, including, Facts of Composting, World Library of Toxicology and others. In addition there are other resource such as the interactive ‘Milestones of Toxicology’ poster (translated into 14 languages) and the free ‘e’ book ‘A Small Dose of Toxicology’ (see http://www.asmalldoseof.org) that has been translated into Chinese and translations are underway in German and Arabic. The websites receives 50,000 to 80,000 visits per month and is the only website on hazardous substances targeted to the general public, including those interested in the welfare of children.

    Toxipedia is 10-years old and in need of a new home. I propose that Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE) assume management and further development of all or part of the Toxipedia website(s). The primary purpose of Toxipedia is to translate new and existing scientific knowledge within the context of history, society, and culture, which is not unlike the purpose of CHE. In addition, one of the powerful aspects of Toxipedia is its Wiki based format, which allows collaborative development, editing, and expansion of the knowledge base. This too is in keeping with CHE goals and activities. Finally, Toxipedia has an international perspective with its World Library of Toxicology focusing on country specific issues and resources. This could be leveraged to enhance and support CHE’s increasingly international scope.

    If you are interested in this opportunity and would like to discuss specifics, such as site maintenance, documentation, training, or financial considerations, please contact me at your convenience.

  16. Hi –

    It would be great if you could set up a system where you have categories of issues, then provide specifically relevant information about each issue. For example:

    Fracking:
    1. Health problem 1.
    A. Info from states:
    (i) Penna
    Categories of issues
    Studies
    Data
    Political situation
    Industry actions
    Organizations to bring out or fix these problems
    (2) Texas
    (3 ++) other states
    2. Health problem 2.
    Same outline

    • Thank you very much for this comment Jessica, and the example. Would others find this sort of organization of topics useful? The challenge, of course, is that keeping such resources updated with current studies, policies, industry actions, etc., is a large regular undertaking, especially if we are doing it for many topics. New science is published daily. That said, we would be interested in what others think about how resources are organized and maintained on the CHE website. Some working groups currently have many resources on their webpage, others not so much. You can see and link to each working group from here: http://www.healthandenvironment.org/initiatives to get a sense of what we are currently doing. A website upgrade would allow us to rethink how we present information/resources via interest topic.

  17. Received via email and shared with permission:
    Hello colleagues, I find CHE very valuable. The information is almost always well presented in a useful length. The interactions are often helpful to move the conversation forward. The culture of respect is well maintained and Michael’s occasional necessary reminders about our ground rules helpful. I would like to see more emphasis on skepticism, both of individual studies but probably more importantly of the role of science in general in addressing the complex environmental and justice challenges today and in the future. l personally believe that the ethical and aesthetic aspects of our endeavors need further discussion.

    Peter Whitehouse

  18. CHE is wonderful source and forum
    Few suggestions:
    1. I would suggest including a section (or information in other sections) on toxic tort litigations regarding cancer and waste sites, pollution of water etc.
    2. Creating an online open journal that would include CHE summaries and comments

    Thank you for the help and information via CHE

    Shai Linn MD MPH DRPH
    Dean
    Faculty of Welfare and Health
    University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel

  19. Thank you for the opportunity to comment. In moving from a basic interest in wellness to a good understanding of environmental health, CHE has been my most valuable resource.

    As someone who fits into the “other concerned citizens” part of your membership, I would suggest working to expand specific target audiences which become engaged with CHE. For example, in the corporate sustainability world, there is often not enough focus/priority on human health impacts. And in environmental health discussions, it would be helpful to have more focus on strategies to affect corporate actions (broader than public policy). This is a gap which is slowly trying to close. There are tons of influential consultants & freelancers out there in the sustainability related space, a portion of whom are inclined to care greatly about health impacts. There is a lot of energy out there to help solve problems. Getting them engaged and forming linkages would require specific focus / language around things like greener products, sustainable agriculture, etc. etc.

    I like the systems thinking approach that CHE uses with the 6 categories of environment. It would be useful to work on simple, big picture public assets/communications with this big picture approach. People get information in sound bites from all directions, and CHE is in a unique position to put it all together, backed up with scientific credibility.

    One of the most important things this community can do is partner somehow to get EH visibility into the major media. Especially with big picture storytelling vs. sound bites. Would this make sense as an initiative?

    The statement, “Strengthening the science dialogue on environmental factors impacting human health” represents the broad scope and big picture focus. To most people outside of the health professions, the term “environmental health” represents a smaller scope or is not understood. I wonder if there is work going on to look at naming and language which would help represent this broader scope.

    Just a general comment that it would be good to have this be a bit more interactive. The 2012 conference was great – maybe something focused on specific topics or solutions with more of a drill down with action plans might be a good approach for another face to face event.

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