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PHI in the News

What Three Generations of California Families Can Tell Us About the Links Between Our Health and Our Environment

May 16, 2019 | Lindsey Konkel | Ensia

Now in its seventh decade, PHI's Child Health and Development Studies (CHDS) is one of the world’s longest running and likely one of the most diverse familial health studies. This Ensia piece recounts the stories for the participants of the CHDS. All volunteer participants have contributed their data to help answer some questions relating to the medical and scientific knowledge about pregnancy, childbirth, and child development, and have added to available scientific information concerning adult health and disease.  more

These Policies were Supposed to Stop Pregnant Women from Drinking. New Study Says They’re Hurting Babies

May 08, 2019 | Anna North | Vox

New research from PHI's Alcohol Research Group and UCSF's Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health suggests that certain efforts intended to stop pregnant women from drinking—including some that have been in place for more than forty years—could be backfiring. Their study, published in PLOS ONE, looked at policies including posting warning signs in bars and restaurants, and policies that define drinking while pregnant as child abuse or neglect. They found these efforts are associated with worse health outcomes for babies—in part because they can actually discourage women from seeking prenatal care.

Read news coverage from Vox.  more

More Monterey County schools to get heads up when pesticides are being sprayed nearby

April 24, 2019 | Eduardo Cuevas | The Californian

A 2014 study by the California Environmental Health Tracking Program—a collaboration with PHI and the state Department of Public Health—found Monterey County had some of the state's highest percentages of schools nearby where pesticides are applied. Seven North Monterey County schools will now receive advanced notice when pesticides are going to be sprayed on crops near schools.  more

Domestic Violence Connection Missing in Many Child Welfare News Stories, Study Says

April 12, 2019 | The Chronicle of Social Change

The overlap between domestic violence and child maltreatment is profound. Research suggests that crossover may include between 30 and 60 percent of families involved with the child welfare system.

However, when the media writes about child welfare—the system that is charged with taking care of abused and neglected children—that connection is seldom featured in stories, according to a new study from PHI's Berkeley Media Studies Group.  more

Flexibility, Benefits And Feeling Appreciated Key Top Nonprofits

April 01, 2019 | Mark Hrywna | Nonprofit Times

Image: Blue background, white font: "NPT's Best Nonprofits to Work For 2019"The Public Health Institute has been named one of the Best Nonprofits to Work For by The Nonprofit Times, in their 2019 report released today, which includes factors such as benefits for physical health as well as financial wellbeing. “Employees are our number one asset, we wouldn’t able to do the work we do without incredible staff. We want to make sure we’re taking care of them as best we can,” said PHI President and CEO Mary Pittman.  more

Lake ranked as least healthy county in California in new national report

March 19, 2019 | Lake County News

Image result for lake county newsThe least healthy county in California is Lake County, according to the newly-released annual County Health Rankings, which PHI helps disseminate throughout the state. The report used data from the years 2015 to 2017, which saw Lake County hit repeatedly not just by wildland fires but by a flood. 

This year’s analyses also show that a lack of opportunity for a safe, secure, and affordable home is tied to poor health. “The housing affordability crisis in California is a public health crisis," said PHI President & CEO Mary Pittman. "Moving forward, we must invest in healthy and affordable housing, protect the residents who are most at risk, and ensure that these residents and communities can fully participate in the shaping of housing policy.”  more

Sound Ambition

March 13, 2019 | Leilani Clark | Made Local Magazine

Hosted by PHI's Michael Dimock, Flipping the Table: Honest Conversations About Food, Farming and the Future is a new podcast featuring dynamic and enlightening conversations with the people who are flipping the table to create new ways to feed the world. In this interview with Sonoma County's Made Local Magazine, Michael Dimock explains the new show and why he decided to host a podcast.  more

Berkeley’s sugary soda consumption plummeted after tax, study says

February 21, 2019 | Erin Allday | San Francisco Chronicle

Berkeley residents cut their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages by half in the three years after passing a soda tax in 2014, according to a new UC Berkeley study. 

“The (UC Berkeley) findings suggest not only that sugar taxes work, but that they keep working over time,” said Dr. Lynn Silver, a senior adviser with PHI who carried out an earlier study of the Berkeley soda tax in 2017 that found that in the year after the tax was enforced soda sales fell nearly 10 percent and bottled water sales increased by 16 percent.  more

Some Rural California Hospitals Will Try To Prevent Overdoses With Opioid Treatment In The ER

February 15, 2019 | Sammy Caiola | Capital Public Radio

More than 31 health facilities across California, many in rural areas, will soon be able to treat patients for opioid withdrawal on the spot. PHI's Bridge program has selected the facilities to participate in the California Bridge Program, providing funds, training and technical assistance for these facilities to increase or improve access to medication-assisted treatment for patients with substance use disorder throughout the hospital.  more

Breast Cancer and DDT: Timing of Exposure May Matter

February 14, 2019 | Robert Preidt | US News and World Report

Exposure to high levels of the pesticide DDT increases breast cancer risk — but when the cancer surfaces depends on when women first came in contact with the chemical, according to a new study published by PHI's Child Health and Development Studies in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

"What we have learned is that timing really matters," said lead author Barbara Cohn. ""The research suggests that DDT affects breast cancer as an endocrine disruptor, that the period of time between first exposure and cancer risk seems to be around 40 years — and that other endocrine-disrupting chemicals could potentially simulate this kind of risk pattern."


Alcohol Problems Grow as Booze Gets a Bigger Kick

February 14, 2019 | Matt Smith | WebMD

Americans may not be drinking much more than they used to -- but they’re drinking more potent stuff. And that trend toward higher-alcohol drinks may be part of what’s driving an increase in alcohol-related deaths and illnesses, according to new research from PHI's Alcohol Research Group.

“There’s been this observation recently of increases in alcohol-related problems like increases in alcoholic liver disease and mortality and emergency room visits related to alcohol, but we haven’t seen a similar increase in alcohol consumption,” says Priscilla Martinez, PhD, a public health and epidemiology researcher at ARG.  more

James Tensuan for NPR

Far From Parkland Spotlight, Teens In East Oakland Want To Tell Their Stories

February 14, 2019 | PDF | Sam Sanders & Anjuli Sastry | NPR

For some young people, a year's attention on events like Parkland hasn't turned into the attention they're asking for: a spotlight on the everyday gun violence they experience in their neighborhoods.

"We can't solve a problem when we don't know what's happening," says Pamela Mejia, head of research at PHI's Berkeley Media Studies Group, which examines mass media and its connection to public health. "If the coverage is overwhelmingly driven by very high profile but fundamentally fairly rare issues ... what people, voters, policymakers ... are learning about and having a sense of as the norm is only those very isolated incidences. And then the solutions that they're thinking about are really solutions that only address those specific problems."  more

Photo illustration by Monet

‘Green chemistry’ makes products safer. Here’s how California can do better

February 11, 2019 | PDF | Gina M. Solomon, Public Health Institute and Martin Mulvihill, SaferMade | CALMatters

Californians’ demand for healthier products is part of a trend toward healthy living that has changed our expectations of chemistry. We led the nation a decade ago by launching a Green Chemistry Initiative to advance the safer use of chemicals.

The Safer Consumer Products Program was designed to deal with “chemical whack-a-mole.” In this real-life version of the carnival game, individual toxic chemicals are banned or regulated, only to be replaced by similar chemicals that have not been studied and can be just as hazardous, write PHI's Gina M. Solomon and SaferMade's Martin Mulvihill in their guest commentary to CALMatters.    more

Climate change is a health emergency. Let’s act like it

February 10, 2019 | Linda Rudolph and Will Barrett

California Governor Gavin Newsom’s early actions to expand health care access and prioritize the social determinants of health are vital strategies to reduce persistent and unacceptable health inequities across the state, but climate change threatens to undermine even the best efforts to achieve health for all, say PHI's Linda Rudolph and the American Lung Association's Will Barrett. They call for climate action to protect public health in this Sacramento Bee op-ed.  more

Sen. Hurtado’s First Bill Aims to Help Asthma Sufferers

February 06, 2019 | Myles Barker | GV Wire

Low-income residents in California's Central Valley suffering from asthma may gain access to resources to help manage the chronic lung disease, with newly elected state Sen. Melissa Hurtado's introduction of Senate Bill 207, which aims to expand asthma prevention services to low-income families. PHI's Anne Kelsey Lamb believes the visits will improve the lives of people with asthma and reduce costly visits to the emergency room.

“This legislation will make sure these services are available to the people who need these services the most,” said Lamb, who directs PHI's Regional Asthma Management and Prevention program.  more

City Heights High Schoolers Are Prepping To Become Your Next Doctor

February 04, 2019 | Tarryn Mento

PHI's FACES for the Future Coalition prepares interested high school students for entry into the health professions, while preparing those students to meet the challenges of impending health workforce shortages and worsening health disparities. This KPBS radio story spotlights one high school senior shadowing a nurse at Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego.  more

What keeps families in one of the most polluted places in California?

January 23, 2019 | Elizabeth Aguilera | CALmatters

The rural border community of Imperial County in California is overburdened by agricultural burning, the nearby dying Salton Sea, and factory emissions from across the Mexico border. Life in Imperial is emblematic of the lives of millions around the state who live with bad air quality. Over the last five years, PHI's California Environmental Health Tracking Program has partnered with Comite Civico del Valle and the University of Washington to create a community network of 40 air monitors in the Imperial Valley. Those efforts that have spurred actions by the state air board to set goals for the region and invest resources in trying to improve the situation.  more

Oral-B Glide floss tied to potentially toxic PFAS chemicals, study suggests

January 09, 2019 | Ryan W. Miller | USA Today

Oral-B Glide may be in the headline of this article, but the message from this new study from PHI's Child Health and Development Studies program, in partnership with the Silent Spring Institute, is to be careful of a host of products laden with PFAS: water- and grease-proof substances that have been linked with kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, high cholesterol, low birth weight, decreased fertility and immune system damage. Researchers also found that African-American women who ate food from coated cardboard containers had higher PFAS levels for four of the chemicals studied compared to those who didn't.  more

Despite an opioid crisis, most ERs don’t offer addiction treatment. California is changing that.

January 08, 2019 | German Lopez | Vox

What if we treated addiction like any other medical condition and built addiction treatment into the rest of the health care system, including in emergency rooms? As the country deals with an opioid epidemic, PHI's BRIDGE program is showing that ER addiction treatment programs are not only possible, but that they work.

Read more on how this approach is working in California.  more

The case for raising the alcohol tax

December 13, 2018 | German Lopez | Vox

The death toll of excessive drinking is higher than deaths due to guns, cars, drug overdoses, or HIV/AIDS have ever been in a single year in the U.S. Research shows that a higher alcohol tax would reduce drinking, saving thousands of lives and preventing crime and public health problems. Yet alcohol taxes have decreased over the past few decades, due to tax cuts but particularly because taxes haven't kept up with inflation, according to this Vox article, which cites a 2013 study by PHI's Alcohol Research Group (ARG) on alcohol costs relative to people’s income.

"Following Prohibition, taxes were put on that were pretty substantial, especially on liquor but on beer and wine as well,” said ARG's William Kerr. “But starting in the ’60s, the updates didn’t happen, either federally or [in the] states. And starting in the late ’60s and especially in the ’70s, there was really high inflation. So that was the transition from high taxes to lower.”  more

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