We are gearing up for another hard fight for health protections in Maryland!
It is almost that time of year again! The Maryland Legislative Session starts on January 11, 2017. Every year, we select a suite of issues where legislative action can protect human health by minimizing environmental damage and exposures.
With the state of national politics, we all look to elected officials in Annapolis for leadership.This year, it will be more important than ever for health professionals to weigh in on decisions that promote quality of life and health in Maryland.
Join us with our partners, the Maryland Public Health Association and Healthcare for All to enjoy light refreshments, awards ceremonies, and discussions to envision the future of better health with colleagues and elected officials.
Reducing or eliminating health hazards in overburdened communities is at the forefront of our work. In Annapolis this year, we will promote environmental justice by working on bills addressing two areas of documented disparities: food deserts and lead.
The food deserts legislation seeks to increase support for funding on food access. The lead legislation seeks to establish a lower pediatric blood lead level for state intervention.
Last year, we supported the Clean Energy Jobs Act because it would have ensured Maryland gets 25 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources like wind and solar by 2020, up from the current goal of 20 percent by 2022. As we transition to renewables, we decrease air pollution that contributes to asthma exacerbations and other air pollution-induced health conditions. The General Assembly passed this bill, but the Governor vetoed it after the end of the legislative session. We are supporting efforts to override the veto.
In 2015, we worked with a large coalition to pass a moratorium on fracking in Maryland. With the moratorium set to expire in 2017, we need the Maryland legislature to act. Public health research since 2015 has documented increased risk of adverse birth outcomes; asthma exacerbations; and sinus problems, migraines, and severe fatigue near highly fracked areas. No regulatory regime can prevent these harms. Other disturbing issues that cannot be addressed by regulations include violence against women; drug and alcohol abuse near fracking sites; and community disruption and division. We support a ban on fracking in Maryland.
Stopping the Overuse of Antibiotics in Agriculture
Antibiotic resistant diseases in humans are on the rise, with 2 million infections and 23,000 deaths per year nationally. Hospital leaders are taking steps towards strong antibiotic stewardship and we are asking the agriculture industry to do the same. In the U.S., 70% of medically important antibiotics are sold for use in livestock production, distributed to animals in daily low doses in their feed. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics have called for responsible use of antibiotics in human and animal healthcare.
The National Institutes of Health has classified Styrene as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” More readily released under heat, Styrene leaches into food and drink served in foam containers. Polystyrene foam persists in the environment, ending up in our waterways. In the water, polystyrene absorbs 10x more fertilizer, pesticides, and other petrochemicals than other kinds of plastic. These tiny pieces can be ingested by fish or picked up by people, exposing them to toxic chemicals. Some counties in the state have already banned polystyrene food containers, and we would like the state to do the same! Visit the Trash Free Maryland for more information.