When natural disasters occur, entire electrical grid systems (including those powered by solar energy) can shut down. Solar energy stored in batteries, which operate independent of the grid, have become an increasingly important, reliable back-up system for maintaining the health and safety of communities in emergencies. Solar batteries also help reduce public health harms caused by climate change and the use of fossil fuels.
Public health law and policy stories that made headlines recently include the impact of cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program on food insecurity in the U.S.; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ rule allowing health workers to opt out of procedures they object to for religious or personal reasons; a precedent-setting ruling mandating addiction treatment for a prison inmate; racial disparities in pregnancy-related deaths; warning labels on sugary drinks; and Washington state’s public insurance offering.
One in five child passenger fatalities in the U.S. involve an impaired driver, most commonly the child’s own driver. Forty-six states and D.C. have child endangerment statutes that impose special sanctions for driving under the influence while transporting a child. Despite the widespread use of such laws, studies of their effectiveness suggest they may not be effective in preventing alcohol-related child fatalities in motor vehicle crashes, primarily due to low public awareness and lax enforcement.
A 2018 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the U.S. burden of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias will double by 2060. Responding to this national public health crisis of the mind facing millions of Americans and their families is essential. A recently released book, Dementia Reimagined, chronicles multiple opportunities to positively intervene in the lives of patients with dementia and their caregivers, and calls for national, state and local policy reforms to address deficiencies in the care and treatment of dementia.
Despite progress in improving the nation’s oral health in recent decades, significant disparities still exist. People from rural communities, those with low incomes, racial and ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, pregnant women, and the elderly suffer disproportionately from tooth decay and gum disease and are less likely to visit a dentist than other Americans. Direct access laws and policies that authorize dental hygienists to provide oral health services in community-based settings, without the presence of a dentist, can bring important oral health care to underserved communities.
While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows children under the age of two to travel in an airplane seated on an adult’s lap, they contend that the safest place for a child on an airplane is in a government-approved child safety restraint system or device, like a car seat. Despite laws allowing the use of certain car seats on aircraft, airlines are able to establish their own policies, and there is significant confusion among their personnel about what seats can be used.
Social determinants of health (SDOH), including where people live, their education and economic stability, access to food and social context account for 60 percent of preventable mortality. States are beginning to use Medicaid Managed Care to provide Medicaid services that are uniquely aimed at addressing the many facets of SDOH.
Dietary supplements and foods containing cannabidiol (CBD) are being sold over-the-counter throughout the United States. The over-the-counter sale of dietary supplements and foods containing CBD has created a lot of confusion regarding the legality of this practice because of CBD’s association with marijuana and recent changes in the 2018 Farm Bill.
Building healthy communities requires access to relevant data from multiple sectors, including public health, health care, schools, human services, housing and law enforcement. Because they can be complex to navigate, federal and state laws governing data collection, use, and sharing can act as barriers to data use. With specialized knowledge in the use of data, privacy officers can help reduce this complexity, making data more accessible to the agencies they serve.
This week, New York City declared a public health emergency in response to a measles outbreak which has infected hundreds of residents, mostly children. The emergency declaration includes an order for mandatory MMR vaccinations affecting residents in select areas of Williamsburg and Brooklyn where most of the existing infections have arisen. Some see the order as an unusual exercise of public health authority. Our FAQ breaks down the key components of the mandate and the legal requirements.