MI Community Faces Water Crisis Calls for Lead Pipe Replacement / Public News Service

BENTON HARBOR, Michigan – As Congress continues to negotiate infrastructure and social safety nets bills, environmental justice advocates say actions like replacing lead pipes can’t wait.

Drinking water systems for more than nine million households across the country contain lead pipes, with black, brown, and low-income communities disproportionately affected.

Mustafa Santiago Ali, vice president of environmental justice, climate and community revitalization for the National Wildlife Federation, said removing lead pipes will benefit children’s health and educational outcomes as exposure to lead is linked to children’s learning and reading difficulties.

“It then also helps to increase values ​​within communities, property values, because we know that there is a huge wealth gap between black and brown communities and white communities,” said Ali. “There are so many different positive things that can happen.”

Last month, environmental groups filed an emergency petition with the Environmental Protection Agency to obtain free, safe drinking water for Benton Harbor, a black-majority community in southwest Michigan. The city has reported extremely high levels of lead in local water for three years.

Ali pointed out that the federal threshold for taking action is when lead is detected in excess of 15 parts per billion. At Benton Harbor, some of the water in households has been tested at more than 800 parts per billion. He added that the water crisis, as happened in Flint, is an example of divestment in a community.

“We have ‘victim zones’ all over our country where people have chosen to divest in certain areas,” said Ali. “And often these areas are our black and brown communities and indigenous communities, sometimes our lower-income white communities. So we have a chance to change that dynamic.”

More than 60% of Americans in recent polls said they support $ 1 trillion in legislation now passed in Congress to improve roads, bridges, broadband, and other infrastructure, including funding lead pipe replacement .

Disclosure: The National Wildlife Federation contributes to our fund for reporting on climate change / air quality, endangered species and wildlife, energy policy, the environment, public land / wilderness, salmon reclamation and water. If you would like to support news in the public interest, click here.

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Mentally capable terminally ill patients less than six months old will now have much easier access to medical care while dying thanks to a law just signed by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Patients still need to get approval from two doctors, but Senate Act 380 cuts the waiting time between two oral applications for the prescription from 15 days to 48 hours.

Amanda Villegas, an attorney and widow of cancer patient Chris Davis, who passed away shortly after diagnosis in 2019 without the option of end-of-life care, said his suffering – and that of his family – had prolonged unnecessarily.

“He wanted other patients not to have to endure what he endured,” says Villegas. “He told me, ‘Don’t stop. Show the photos, tell my story. Let them know that has to change.'”

Groups opposed to the bill invoke religious and moral concerns. A study by Kaiser found that a third of terminally ill adults who seek medical help while dying die before they have completed the claims process. Lawyers estimate that since California’s End of Life Option Act went into effect five years ago, nearly 1,400 people have died before receiving a prescription.

The bill also requires hospitals and hospices to post their attitudes on euthanasia on their websites so patients don’t waste valuable time figuring out if their provider is ready to help.

Kim Callinan, President and CEO of the Compassion and Choices Action Network, said she hopes other states will follow the example of the Golden State.

“This is a huge victory right now for the Californians and for truly dying Americans in every state,” said Callinan.

The bill will come into force on January 1st. Nine other states and Washington DC have passed medical euthanasia laws.

Disclosure: Compassion and Choices contributes to our fund for reporting on community engagement, health issues, senior citizens issues and social justice. If you would like to support news in the public interest, click here.

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TACOMA, Wash. – Flu season is just around the corner, which means many people can get a flu shot to protect themselves. Health experts advise anyone who can safely get vaccinated to get a flu shot.

Dr. Tessa Commers, Tacoma Pediatrician at Kaiser Permanente in Tacoma, stressed the added importance of flu vaccination this year as influenza sufferers could weigh on already congested hospitals as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.

“Not only do we have the need for the additional services necessary to care for those suffering from the flu, but the risk of contracting flu and COVID at the same time is potentially more serious and harmful to the body,” said Commers.

People can speak to their doctor or pharmacist to learn more about flu vaccinations.

While many parents are waiting for COVID-19 vaccines to be approved for children under the age of 12, Commers says flu shots are available for children six months and older.

“The flu protection will provide at least one level of protection for young people who are otherwise unable to get the COVID vaccine,” advised Commers. “So every level of protection is good protection for us.”

Commers added that the flu shot is safe for people who have received a COVID vaccine, noting that there are no studies to suggest an interaction between the two.

“You’re sure to get it on the same day at the same time,” emphasized Commers. “They would not interfere with each other’s effectiveness and would not have harmful effects on the body if you got them at the same time.”

COVID cases have increased in Washington state since the summer, though
Nearly 70% of the state’s population over the age of 12 is fully vaccinated, according to the Washington State Department of Health.

Disclosure: The Washington Project’s Kaiser Health Plan contributes to our fund for reporting on alcohol and drug abuse prevention, health issues, hunger / nutrition / nutrition, and senior citizens issues. If you would like to support news in the public interest, click here.

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HARTFORD, Connecticut – Asthma is one of the top reasons Connecticut children are missing out on school, and a new grant program will help improve asthma rates by using community health workers to provide outreach.

The $ 150,000 Connecticut Health Foundation grant goes to Charter Oak, a state-qualified health center in Hartford. Community health workers typically come from the region or population they care for and can help bridge the gap between patients and the health system.

Tiffany Donelson, president and CEO of the Connecticut Health Foundation, said the research shows workers are vital in managing public health issues like asthma.

“A community health worker is able to go inside and understand, are there any ways to mitigate some of the environmental factors within the home?” Donelson explained. “They are able to work with schools and understand what the right protocols are for children.”

Donelson indicated that Charter Oak’s health workers program will begin operations this month. She noted that it follows a program in the Seattle area that, after 20 years of research, developed guidelines that reduce asthma rates in children and adults through home visits.

In Connecticut, racial differences are part of the picture of asthma in children, with black children five times more likely to be hospitalized than white children.

Donelson argued that disparities make community health workers even more important to the populations they care for.

“What we need to do now is fully integrate community health workers into the health system,” said Donelson. “And that we can find ways in which we can fund health workers in the community because they do work that we have not seen other parts of the system capable of doing.”

The foundation will fund the Charter Oak community’s health workers program for two to three years. It’s a collaboration with Commonwealth Medicine, a division of the University of Massachusetts Medical School that previously studied interventions by community health workers in Connecticut.

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