Executive Director of PSR-LA Martha Dina Argüello gave an overview and the goals of the program in achieving successes within the political arena. She urged the participating members to take a stance in securing the health and well-being of the masses by partaking in future training sessions to better their understanding and familiarity with environmental health issues and public speaking to various audiences. In addition, she emphasized the magnitude of having a health professional speak about these issues and the profound impact it can have on legislation.
Environmental health scientist Tracey Woodruff presented a grand overview on chemicals, such as phthalates, and the harmful affects they have on reproductive health. As the director of the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment at the University of California San Francisco, she as studied and become an expert on environmental health issues, including health effects from air pollution, children’s health risks and science policy issues. The most astounding parts of her presentation were about how chemicals are found everywhere and how we are all subjected to their toxic effects. In addition, there are many policy loopholes that allow the most dangerous toxins to still be manufactured and used in products ranging from children’s toys to aluminum can linings. Most testing is done without looking at the synergistic effects that multiple chemicals in the same product may produce, so although a chemical may seem to be safe in a laboratory, that same chemical may promote another chemical to be 10x as toxic when combined in a product. Woodruff’s presentation helped our attending health professionals understand the background, alarming effects, and poor legislation we have regarding these 80,000 plus chemicals. See the video of Dr. Woodruff’s presentation.
Richard Jackson, internationally recognized environmental health expert, presented information about occupational health and safety especially in the realm of pesticide use. Because of his physician background, Dr. Jackson was able to identify with the participants and show them how to properly speak about environmental health issues. Key points were to keep the message simple and to practice as much as possible before presenting. The best preparation is to have friends ask endless questions so that one is fully prepared for any questioning that may occur in a political or law arena. Keeping the message simple is important for understanding the issue, stance of the health care professional, and any problems there may be. He also encouraged physician participation and echoed Martha’s comments on the vital influence professionals have for securing environmental justice victories. See the video of Dr. Jackson’s presentation.
Each participant was given a PSR-LA advocacy toolkit to further their training on environmental issues that PSR-LA works on by being familiar with our current environmental health program areas, partners that PSR-LA works with, the California legislative process, guidelines for meeting with public officials, and broadcast media and spokesperson skills. There was also a great opportunity for immediate involvement in the SB 797 bill – The Toxin-Free Toddlers and Babies Act that could ban bisphenol-A. We want to thank those who made it to the first training and we hope that they learned a lot about how chemicals affect reproductive health in both men and women and how to speak knowledgeably about the issue.