Candidate for Board of Health 2018

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The mission of the Wellesley Health Department is to assess and address the needs of the Wellesley community, in order to protect and improve the health and quality of life of its residents and work forThis charge is carried out by the implementation of disease prevention programs, health promotion, community health and nursing services, public outreach, education and empowerment, as well as promulgation and enforcement of Health Department, Town and State regulations.

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1.What is your track record on environmental sustainability, including any related interests, experience, or initiatives?

[Marcia Testa Simonson]- Environmental sustainability ensures that the needs of all living creatures can be met without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. From local to global environmental health issues, sustaining future generations with the knowledge, skills and fortitude to help guide people’s attitude towards nature, their behavior and their impact on ecosystems is an important component of environmental sustainability. For the past 30 years, I have served on the faculty of the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health as Co-Director of the Master of Public Health (MPH) program and as a thesis advisor to hundreds of students. We train our students that public health’s mission is to provide clean, safe and uncontaminated water, air, soil and food which goes hand in hand with environmental sustainability. By educating each generation on the causal linkages between sustainability and health, we can better promote renewing, reusing and recycling – critical components of environmental sustainability that contributes to improved quality of life.

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2. How do you view the relationship between public health, the environment, and 
sustainability?

[Marcia Testa Simonson]- 
Environmental health is the branch of public health that is concerned with all aspects of the natural and built environment that affects human health. Environmental sustainability benefits human health by promoting:

–  Cleaner air, resulting from fewer emissions from cars, buses, and industrial processes, lowering the incidence of lung disease, asthma, and allergy-like symptoms.

– Unpolluted water, free from human and animal waste, bacteria, heavy metals, chemical, hormones and even discarded pharmaceuticals, preventing human and animal diseases.

– A built environment that encourages active transportation, such as walking and bicycling for transportation encouraging people to get more exercise, thereby lowering the risk of conditions and diseases such as obesity, heart disease and osteoporosis.

– Greater energy conservation which lowers major pollution associated with the most common forms of energy production, thereby reducing the incidence and lessening the symptom severity of diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, heart disease and emphysema.

– Reducing air pollution that contributes to ozone depletion and climate change which can in turn cause extreme weather such as hurricanes, and warmer oceans resulting in an increase in toxic algae blooms and vector-borne diseases.

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3. What specific initiatives related to the environment should the Board of Health undertake in your next three-year term?

[Marcia Testa Simonson]-The Wellesley BOH works with the Massachusetts Departments of Public Health and Environmental Protection to enforce federal, state and local regulations that cut across many areas, including: health promotion and disease control, housing and dwellings, hazardous waste, solid waste, septic and garbage, nuisances, food safety, pools and beaches, camps, pesticides, animal safety, smoking and tobacco. Inspections and reviews conducted by certified environmental health specialists are some of the most important tools that a BOH uses as part of ensuring local compliance. The newest and largest sustainability program in Wellesley involves the recovery, reuse and recycling of unused food. This program was spearheaded by Wellesley’s 3R Working Group involving representatives from the Wellesley Department of Public Works, the Sustainable Energy Committee, and the Natural Resources Commission in conjunction with Wellesley public schools, colleges and universities. The Wellesley BOH helped develop food safety and surveillance protocols to monitor the food recovery and recycling processes to ensure the safety of the food supply chain as required under federal and state laws. Over the next three years, I believe that the BOH should continue to support enhanced inspectional services, surveillance and monitoring for successfully continuing and expanding this critical sustainability effort.