New public health policy statements adopted at APHA 2019


The American Public Health Association’s Governing Council adopted 14 new policy statements at its 2019 Annual Meeting and Expo in Philadelphia yesterday, covering topics such as environmental justice, drinking water safety and attacks on health workers.


The following are brief descriptions of 7 policy statements adopted by the Governing Council at the Annual Meeting. For more information on any of the policy statements, email


These brief descriptions are not comprehensive and do not include every point, statement or conclusion presented in the policy statements. For the full policy statements, which will be posted in early 2020, visit


20192 Investing in maternal mental health — As maternal mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and psychosis can have serious impacts on women, their children, families and communities, urges U.S. officials to ensure that the nation’s global health programs promote maternal mental health as a core component of their missions. Calls on global, national, regional and community-level health training groups to invest in the development of a global maternal mental health workforce. Encourages public health researchers to conduct research on maternal mental health, with an emphasis on culturally appropriate strategies. Calls on global and U.S. policymakers to implement policies that improve women’s experiences in pregnancy, childbirth and in the postpartum period.


20193 Eliminating exposure to asbestos — With an estimated 255,000 people worldwide dying from asbestos-related cancers and respiratory diseases every year — including 40,000 people in the U.S. — calls on Congress to pass legislation banning all importation, manufacture, processing and distribution of asbestos and asbestos-containing products. Urges Congress to direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate and estimate the prevalence of asbestos in residential, commercial, industrial and public buildings, including all public and private school buildings. Encourages EPA to strengthen enforcement of the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act’s inspection certification process, and urges the U.S. surgeon general to issue an annual warning about asbestos to educate the public about its harms.


20194 Moratorium on concentrated animal feeding operations — Noting that large amounts of manure and other untreated waste created by concentrated animal feeding operations pose a threat to air quality, drinking water and human health, urges the federal government to remove such operations from reporting exemptions related to environmental emissions. Calls on policymakers to enforce the Clean Water Act as it relates to such operations, as well as strengthen regulations on the monitoring of air emissions so that researchers can study the potential risks to health. Encourages federal officials to bring the use of medically important antibiotics in U.S. poultry and livestock into compliance with World Health Organization recommendations that producers stop using such antibiotics in healthy animals.


20195 Drinking water and public health — Noting that millions of people in the U.S. drink water that does not meet public health standards and that investments will be needed to protect water in the face of climate change, calls on CDC and state and local health and environmental protection agencies to facilitate greater involvement of public health professionals in issues related to drinking water and health. Urges such agencies to ensure broader public access to information on drinking water quality, including improvements to consumer right-to-know provisions. Encourages local, state and federal governments to increase funding for research on the links between drinking water contamination and disease.


20196 Climate change and mental health — Noting that the mental health effects of climate change have yet to be equally addressed and prioritized in related preparedness and adaptation activities, encourages federal, state and local governments — as well as public health and other community organizations — to fully implement recommendations from the American Psychological Association and ecoAmerica reports on climate change and mental health. Calls on governments and organizations across sectors to assess and enhance service and system infrastructures with regard to strategies and interventions that address the mental health effects of climate change. Urges professional training in best practices for addressing climate change and mental health, with a focus on resilience, adaptation, constructive action and hope.


20197 Environmental justice and health equity — Because environmental justice communities are comprise marginalized communities who live in areas disproportionately impacted by environmental hazards and historical traumas — all of which drive environmental health disparities — calls on governments, academia, nonprofits and private companies to increase diversity and inclusion in environmental and public health sectors. Encourages public health agencies to form partnerships with social justice actors and organizations. Urges institutions and organizations to meet with, listen to and work with and for environmental justice communities to advance solutions. Calls on public health professionals to advocate for sustained health coverage for environmental justice communities and expanded health care and support in the face of environmental disasters.


20198 Public health response after disasters — In response to the public health challenges of high-impact natural disasters, encourages EPA and CDC, in partnership with research universities and faculty, to engage in mid- to long-term health surveillance of disaster-affected populations. Calls for such actions to include the creation of a health risk registry and tracking system on residents’ exposures to chemicals and zoonoses using a One Health framework. Urges that long-term health impacts from high-impact disasters warrant large-scale, longitudinal public health cohort studies that rely on the Life Course Theory or similar frameworks and that should include participants as infants or children. Recommends future short-term, post-disaster response projects by taking advantage of existing health care infrastructures.



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