I spent last week working on Pittsburgh 2005: Conference on Health and Environment. It was a fascinating conference. As I wound up helping with A/V during the conference itself, I got to hear a number of researchers and public policy folks give very interesting talks on medical and public health issues around the environment.
This conference attracted about 250 folks from all over the northeast, probably about 1/3rd reserachers, 1/3rd activists and 1/3rd others. There were even a few people from the Centers for Disease Control, which was good – at least one governmental agency was paying some attention.
However, one agency that seemed to be completely unrepresented was the Environmental Protection Agency. There did not seem to be anyone from either the federal or the state EPA at this environmental and health conference.
In the case of the federal EPA, it shouldn’t be a big surprise. When was the last time the federal EPA considered health more important than business? I was a little more disappointed by the state EPA’s failure to show up, but given the state had just given permission for a coke plant to blast even more mercury into our environment, I shouldn’t have been surprised about that, either. Heavy metal toxicity is probably going to be a bigger problem to our health than nuclear power ever was threatened to be.