The Pennsylvania Constitution (Article 1, Section 27) states that “people have a right to clean air, pure water, and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment.” Every two years, a new legislative session begins and offers an opportunity to uphold these constitutional rights by introducing bills that advance the primary prevention of exposure to environmental harms that impact public health. In January 2021, a new session began.
WHE serves as the Pennsylvania representative in the Great Lakes Lead Elimination Network (GLLEN), convened by the Ecology Center. GLLEN has identified local, state, and federal priorities to help reach the objective of eliminating lead poisoning. Our state priorities include:
WHE is a proud member of The Lead-Free Promise Project. This coalition of physicians, advocates, and parents is protecting PA kids by ending lead paint poisoning.
The coalition, led by Co-Chairs Dr. Harriett Okatch of Franklin & Marshall College and Colleen McCauley, Health Policy Director for Public Citizens of Children and Youth (PCCY), has two primary goals:
WHE created the Radon in Schools Workgroup in 2019 to advocate for legislative action to protect children from radon exposure in schools and childcare centers. We advocate for the following PA policy solutions:
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of man-made chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals. PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the globe, including in the United States since the 1940s. They are common in non-stick cookware. Pennsylvania can emulate the legislation passed in other states to work towards PFAS-safe communities.
The following measures should be taken:
PlanCon, an acronym for Planning and Construction Workbook, is a set of forms and procedures used by public school districts to apply for commonwealth reimbursement for construction and reconstruction projects implemented to improve school building conditions. This process originated from the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (PDE) school building standards and reimbursement system established by Act 24 of 19731. In the last 40 years, school districts across Pennsylvania received approximately $8.1 billion in support of the construction of new facilities or the expansion and renovation of existing facilities. This resource is among other state and federal sources of support for school infrastructure improvement and/or expansion projects. Creating and maintaining healthy schools requires dedicated ample public funding.
Women for a Healthy Environment recommends that the commonwealth:
Household mold can threaten your health in a variety of ways, and some have neurotoxic, reproductive, and carcinogenic properties. There are currently no statutes or regulations requiring property owners to disclose the presence of mold in rental housing to prospective tenants or buyers.
Pennsylvania could protect residents from this hazard by:
Radon is a colorless, odorless, naturally occurring radioactive gas that can cause lung cancer after long periods of exposure indoors.
Pennsylvania can protect residents from this poisonous gas by making the following changes:
According to the National Cancer Institute, coal tar is the byproduct of the production of coke, a solid fuel made by heating coal in the absence of air. Coal-tar pitch is a thick black liquid that remains after the distillation of coal tar. Both generally have a smoky or aromatic odor and have been classified as carcinogenic. Coal tar and coal tar pitch are commonly found in pavement sealants. A federal ban on the production of coal tar and coal-tar pitch in any commercial product would be the most health protective and efficient policy solution. States can ban the sale or use of cosmetics and industrial products containing coal tar and coal-tar pitch, including its use in pavement products.
Glyphosate, a chemical commonly used in pesticides like Round Up spray, is a probable human carcinogen. Pennsylvania should boost compliance with the IPM requirement for schools and early learning centers by providing more extensive education and support for facility directors and groundskeepers on the implementation of alternative practices. States have begun to restrict or ban the use of glyphosate across their communities.