Environmental and Public Health Policy Beyond September 11

Many residents and workers in Manhattan, worried about the\r\nshort- and long-term issues and solutions regarding environmental\r\nhealth in New York City, might have some answers soon.

Many residents and workers in Manhattan, worried about the short- and long-term issues and solutions regarding environmental health in New York City, might have some answers soon.

A working conference has been scheduled for Friday, May 9 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the CUNY Graduate Center at Fifth Avenue between 34th and 35th Streets might help answer some questions.

The conference, which is endorsed by more than 30 organizations, will assess the environmental and public health policy implications of the World Trade Center catastrophe. It is co-sponsored by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH) and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, Continuing Education & Public Programs. More than 150 leaders and activists from environmental, labor, public health, education, immigrant, community, tenant and faith-based organizations are expected to attend.

"We will foster discussion among leaders and activists," says conference organizer David Newman. "Our aim is to begin to develop an agreement among the participants on policy objectives and ways that we can organize to achieve them."

Among the questions the conferees will attempt to answer: Have the efforts of government agencies and other institutions been sufficient to protect the health of workers, residents, students and others? Have officials made full use of applicable regulations and enforcement procedures? How will the response to the events of September 11th shape future regulatory efforts and policies?

Panel discussions include "Environmental Health Occupational Health and Safety, Emergency Preparedness and Response," which examines the continuing environmental safety and health consequences of the events of September 11th and how they have tested the abilities of government agencies and private organizations to respond to large scale emergencies and disasters.

"Physical and Mental Health" features Dr. Stephen Levin, co-director, Mt. Sinai-Selikoff Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, addresses the impact of Sept. 11 on the mental and physical health of workers, residents, service providers, children and the broader community. The abilities of social service, mental health, medical, and public health systems to respond to the needs created by September 11 are still being examined. To assess and meet these needs, which differ among a widely diverse range of populations, requires that organizations and agencies address communication, financial, logistical, quality, and consistency issues on a scale and complexity that has not been attempted before.

"Access to Information: Community and Worker Right to Know" points out how the events of September 11th and since have underscored how important it is for workers and residents to be able to get information about environmental and health hazards, sampling results, risk assessment, and risk management. Additionally, affected populations should be able to participate in the planning and implementation of emergency response efforts.

"Long Term Planning for Environmental Health" asks the questions: How can we take advantage of this new awareness to address the broad spectrum of environmental health and safety issues that affect New York City? How do we better involve and inform the public in decisions about policies that affect them? What changes and improvements can be made to existing policies and regulations for industry, transportation, schools, building design and construction, air quality, environmental safety and other areas to reduce future risk and create safer and healthier environments for all New Yorkers? How can we work together to implement these changes?

To register send your name, affiliation, address, phone number and e-mail address to Continuing Education and Public Programs, CUNY Graduate Center, 365 5th Ave, #8111, New York NY 10016 or telephone 212-817-8215. A donation of $20 is requested, but no one will be turned away for inability to pay. Make checks payable to: CUNY Graduate Center - 9/11 Conference.

The conference agenda can be viewed on the Internet at www.nycosh.org/9-11conference.html.

by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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