Which of these situations applies depends more on the current state rules and regulations in your state than on federal laws.
For instance, Texas mandates that all school districts have an integrated pest management program (IPM) for school buildings; IPM gives priority to nonchemical pest control techniques and contains some safeguards regarding grounds spraying.
Moreover, Massachusetts prohibits pesticide usage on school property. Illinois only requires IPM where it is economically feasible for school buildings. The education and technical support that states offer to implement these principles also varies widely among them.
Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency participates in some fundamental pesticide activities, weaknesses in the main pesticide statute and corporate influence may result in vulnerable populations, such as children, not being sufficiently protected from these exposures.
Although considering economic costs and advantages, an approach that can lead to judgments that pose health hazards, the EPA registers items for use based on a determination that they do not constitute an unreasonable risk. Ingredients that are thought to be trade secrets may not be listed on mandatory labels.
Congress Eased Off, States Stepped In
I teach, write, and reflect on the advantages and disadvantages of having one level of government or the other manage environmental health and the effects of natural and man-made environments on human health as an environmental health attorney and professor. One issue with inconsistent protection from one state to the next is pesticides on school property.
While the federal government has gradually backed away from enacting significant environmental health laws, state policy decisions have become more crucial for reducing people’s exposure to pollution and poisons.
On the strength of the environmental movement and with bipartisan support that is uncommon today, many of the nation’s significant environmental health laws were passed in the 1970s.
For instance, the 1970 amendments to the Clean Air Act mandated that the U.S. EPA control a wide range of air pollutants, sometimes specifically with the goal of preserving human health.
President Richard M. Nixon signed them into law after they received 374-1 votes in favor in the House and 73-0 in favor in the Senate. In 1971, Nixon approved the legislation that established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
According to one researcher, organizations that first lobbied lawmakers for environmental protection later split into organizations supporting and opposing environmental laws, reflecting a developing argument about the proper level of regulation.
Sometimes, States Should Make the Decisions
The achievement of numerous federal environmental health regulations at the same time redirected focus to issues that are more difficult for Washington to resolve.
Some people stated that the U.S. EPA’s role should change as state environmental programs expand, from compelling to catalyzing, from enforcing particular pollution-reduction steps to encouraging states to act by giving more information and assistance with compliance.
Nonetheless, this viewpoint recognized that in this scenario, some states’ citizens would have access to more robust environmental health regulations than others.
Even when the federal government adopts stricter environmental rules, they are frequently overturned by the subsequent administration or challenged in court, reflecting this dynamic and the depth of political polarisation in the United States.
It makes sense to defer to state authority in some situations. With the increase in fires in that region of the country, a health agency in a western state may concentrate on safeguarding vulnerable populations from wildfire smoke. Fracking operations may be welcomed in some states and rejected in others.
States Using California s Low-Emissions Vehicle Standard
California is the only state with a waiver under the federal Clean Air Act allowing it to set stricter vehicle emissions standards than the federal government s. Other states can adopt its standards, however. These states have done so for criteria air pollutants from vehicles.
States can operate as incubators for innovation, and federal measures can be informed by the successes and failures of state initiatives and laws.
But this patchwork of regulations produces injustices. You probably benefit from less air pollution if you reside in one of the twelve and a half states that adhere to California’s tailpipe emissions standards rather than the laxer federal standards.
How You Can Hold Lawmakers to Account
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which restricts greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants, also applies to people on the East Coast. A recent study that compared RGGI states with nearby non-RGGI states came to the conclusion that the statistics show RGGI has significantly improved child health, including a decline in asthma cases in children.
- One person can be dismissed as an outlier, so start a group or join other groups that have similar interests.
- Research the problem and best practices and possible solutions, like program or policy development, education or stepped-up enforcement. Then call, email, and send letters to elected representatives and request a meeting to clearly and concisely explain your concerns and ideas.
- Identify a champion someone in a position to spearhead a change, like a school nurse or facilities manager, and reach out to them.
- Get the issue into the local news media by writing op-eds and social media posts. Be sure to communicate the benefits of the action you’re advocating, like improved school attendance or financial return on investment.
- Attend public meetings and speak on the issue during the public comment period. Successes at the local level can provide examples for state officials.
States may have different perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl material limitations or labeling regulations. PFAS have been connected to a number of alarming health impacts and can be found in products ranging from nonstick cookware to several personal care items.
18 state attorneys general are requesting a federal statute due to the substances’ toxicity, extensive range of pollution, and persistence in the environment.
A vicious cycle of anxiety and neglect frequently affects environmental health. Until the next issue arises, people worry about issues like the chemical used on apples. The general people may continue to exert pressure on state and federal decision-makers to take into account the many ways in which the environment influences health:
Susan Kaplan, University of Illinois at Chicago research assistant professor of public health.