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PHI in the News

Paradise Residents Unsure If Their Water Is Safe

November 27, 2019 | Lily Jamali | KQED

Logo: The California Report

A year has passed since the Paradise Camp Fire, the most destructive fire in the state’s history. Although many residents have returned to their homes, they are now questioning the safety of their water supply. In this California Report segment, reporter Molly Peterson discusses a new study led by PHI’s Gina Soloman, on the state of water in Paradise and Magalia, California, and nearby areas.   more

Preliminary findings show that harmful contaminants in burn scar plumbing are rare

November 19, 2019 | Camille von Kaenel | Chico Enterprise-Record

Water experts are still finding traces of harmful chemicals in parts of the water systems burned by the Camp Fire and in interior plumbing more than a year after the disaster, but the cases are rare.

Fears about the contamination have been a hurdle for recovery. The water utilities say they are addressing the problem through tens of thousands of tests and hundreds of repairs. But one big question remained on the minds of residents: What about their own taps? Home plumbing is not the responsibility of the utility. Many residents paid for tests out of pocket. 

So far, an outside team of researchers, led by PHI's Gina Solomon, has found only a few cases where volatile organic compounds that are harmful to human health seeped into home plumbing from the water system. Most of those cases tested largely below unsafe levels. “We were kind of looking for those worst-case scenarios,” said Solomon. “What we found was actually really encouraging.”  more

Mercy Medical Center Redding leads the fight against opioid epidemic through new program

November 06, 2019 | Meaghan Mackey | KRCR News

People with opioid addiction often come into the Emergency Department because they have either overdosed, are in withdrawal or they are suffering from other addiction related medical issues. That's why Mercy Medical Center in Redding, CA has launched the Redding Rancheria program to provide treatment to help ease withdrawal symptoms while also putting patients in contact with longer term recovery care and individualized follow-up support. Redding Rancheria is part of PHI's California Bridge Program, which is developing hospitals and emergency rooms into primary access points for the treatment of acute symptoms of substance use disorders.  more

Takeaways From The World's Largest Cannabis Public Health Forum

October 21, 2019 | Javier Hasse Benzinga | Yahoo! Finance

The 2019 North American Cannabis Summit, the world’s largest cannabis public health forum, has released its Summary of Proceedings, which include remarks from Lynn Silver, Senior Advisor to the Public Health Institute: “For legalization to have net positive societal effects, rather than simply allowing the emergence of a new tobacco-like industry, strong guardrails need to be in place. The voices of public health officials, clinicians, parents, and teachers need to be at the table. Protecting new legal investors cannot lead to the same or more incarceration as before.”  more

Utah alcohol laws hit the ‘sweet spot’ between consumer demand and health concerns, speaker says

October 19, 2019 | Kathy Stephenson | The Salt Lake Tribune

In a couple of weeks, Utah will loosen one of its longtime alcohol rules by allowing grocery and convenience stores to sell stronger beer — 4% alcohol by weight, up from the 3.2% it previously permitted — starting Nov. 1. At the same time, the state also has the toughest-in-the-nation DUI law, with a blood alcohol content limit of 0.05 instead of the more common 0.08.

A Boston Medical Center study scored the 50 states on a scale of 0 to 3. States with higher scores had stronger policies — such as higher taxes, restrictions on where and when alcohol is sold, limits on advertising and increased enforcement. Utah scored about 2.5, putting it fourth highest, behind Oklahoma, Tennessee and Alabama. Kansas and Washington had similar scores to Utah.

Higher alcohol policy scores represented stronger policy environments and were associated with less adult binge drinking and accounted for a substantial proportion of the state-level variation in binge drinking among U.S. states. Katherine Karriker-Jaffe with PHI's Alcohol Research Group, said states with higher scores also had fewer “secondhand harms” from alcohol use, which range from lack of family finances and ruined property to harassment.  more

Paradise Residents Still Can't Drink the Water

September 30, 2019 | Molly Peterson | KQED

Public health investigator Dr. Gina Solomon examines a water meter in Paradise. Her team will do the first testing for the carcinogen benzene inside homes left standing by the Camp Fire. (Molly Peterson/KQED)Since last November, when the Camp Fire almost completely destroyed the town of Paradise, the cancer-causing chemical benzene has tainted the town’s water, leaving it undrinkable. Now an independent team of scientists led by PHI's Dr. Gina Solomon will begin testing for the carcinogen and other pollutants inside the houses that the fire left standing.

“The main goal is to really understand what’s going on, basically, and to address any issues that come up,” Solomon told residents at a recent Paradise Irrigation District meeting.  more

A memorial to the victims of the Tree of Life massacre outside the synagogue. (daveynin/Flickr)

Mass shootings dominate reporting on gun violence. Here’s what we need to talk about instead.

September 26, 2019 | Brian Malte | Pennsylvania Capital-Star

For decades, the media has treated the gun violence issue like it was a sport, dividing America into two camps: fans who love guns and opponents who fear guns. This simplistic sorting fuels furious political debate, but also has deleterious consequences for an issue that deserves a thoughtful, data driven approach. Hope and Heal Fund provided funds to PHI's Berkeley Media Studies Group (BMSG) to analyze media reports of gun violence, finding that coverage is primarily driven by public mass shootings and episodic community shootings. The relentless focus on public mass shootings has consequences. Continual depictions overemphasizes the prevalence of mass shootings, and it sustains the (erroneous) assumption that gun violence is inevitably the inheritance of black and brown  communities. And missing almost entirely from the cannon of news coverage are what should be plentiful references to preventable firearm suicides and domestic violence where the firearm is the most common and lethal means of death.  more

Today’s Pot Is Not Safe

September 11, 2019 | Lynn Silver | Sacramento News & Review

Last month, the U.S. surgeon general released an advisory warning on the effects of marijuana on teens, young adults and pregnant women. The bulk of science and studies overwhelmingly support the recent advisory warning: Marijuana harms youth. But what would actually help? For one thing, changing how we have used marijuana arrests and sentencing to disproportionately penalize young men of color, and making sure we don't perpetuate that process among youth today, writes PHI's Lynn Silver, director of the Getting it Right From the Start project.   more

PHI's Gina Solomon to Study Water Contamination After Camp Fire

September 07, 2019 | Camille Von Kaenel | Oroville Mercury-Register

Following California's 2018 Camp Fire—the deadliest blaze in state history—PHI's Gina Solomon is launching a study into the possible contamination in the indoor plumbing of homes that survived the fire. Volatile organic compounds that may be harmful to health, notably benzene which is linked to anemia, immune system damage and leukemia, were first found in water systems after an urban wildfire in Santa Rosa. Benzene was also detected after the Camp Fire. “There were some urgent questions in the community and people deserved answers,” says Solomon.  more

Then and Now: Looking Back at a Decade of Girl-Fueled Activism in Liberia

September 05, 2019 | Kaitlin Chandler Brooks and Maryem Torabi | Ms. Magazine

Rise Up Leaders Aisha Cooper Bruce (left) and Rosana Schaack (right).Since 2009, PHI's Rise Up has created a powerful network of over 500 leaders has directly benefited 7 million girls, youth and women—advocating for over 100 laws and policies impacting 115 million people in Africa, Latin America, South Asia and the U.S.

In celebration of Rise Up's 10 years of global impact for girls and women, learn about their work through the journeys of Aisha and Rosana, two Rise Up leaders, and reflect on a decade of their impactful work in Liberia.  more

Photo by Robyn Beck, courtesy AFP/Getty Images

Protecting Public Health Key as Marijuana Legalization Grows: Colorado Leading the Way Among States

August 26, 2019 | PDF | Aaron Warnick | The Nation's Health

In June, Illinois joined 10 states and the District of Columbia in legalizing recreational use of marijuana—and some health advocates worry that policymakers aren't going far enough to protect health and invest in equity. That's why PHI's Getting it Right from the Start project works with cities, counties and states to provide guidance on adopting cannabis policies that reduce harms, protect against youth and problem cannabis use, and ensure social equity.

“It’s going to be up to states to adopt policies that are more responsive to public health and social equity concerns,” said PHI's Lynn Silver, director of the Getting it Right from the Start project. “Just because marijuana is legal doesn’t mean we have to allow every form of marijuana consumption that the industry can dream up.”  more

Why Warning Pregnant Women Not to Drink Can Backfire

August 19, 2019 | Aaron E. Carroll | The New York Times

Most pregnant women follow medical advice on forgoing alcohol, but what is the best way to reach those who don’t? Perhaps not signs like these.

Punitive policies—like equating drinking while pregnant as child abuse and threatening to involve child protective services—may actually dissuade women from getting prenatal care, according to a recent study from PHI's Alcohol Research Group and UCSF's Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health. The research found that policies which defined alcohol use during pregnancy as child abuse or neglect were associated with an increase of more than 12,000 preterm births, and resulted in more than $580 million in costs during the first year of life. In The New York Times, Aaron E. Carroll investigates this and other studies that show why warning pregnant women not to drink can backfire.  more

All in the Family: What Multigenerational Cohorts Are Revealing about Potential Environmental Impacts on Neurodevelopment

July 18, 2019 | Lindsey Konkel | Environmental Health Perspectives

Between 1959 and 1967, more than 15,000 pregnant women in the Bay Area enrolled in PHI's Child Health and Development Studies (CHDS), a long-term cohort project designed to better understand what makes pregnancies—and children—healthy. Today, PHI researchers are using that same data to uncover how an individual’s exposures can impact the health of their descendants, like identifying links between grandparents’ exposures and behaviors—things like smoking, alcohol, and medication use—and autism diagnoses in the third generation.  more

Plumas County’s Approach to Opioid Crisis Feted Nationally

July 17, 2019 | Debra Moore | Plumas News

The rural Plumas County is being help up as a model for how other counties can fight the opioid crisis. This report highlights Plumas County public health representatives who went to Washington D.C. and to PHI's 2019 National Opioid Leadership Summit in Sacramento to share how they have found solutions that work toward curbing the opioid crisis in their area.  more

New Report Details How Extreme Heat will Affect the Bay Area

July 16, 2019 | Hosted by Michael Krasny | KQED Forum

If we don't act on climate change now, in about 50 years San Francisco could see as many as 30 above-90-degree days annually, according to a new report. KQED Forum talks about the new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists, how Bay Area temperatures will likely change in coming decades and the health impacts of extreme heat. Featuring PHI's Dr. Linda Rudolph.  more

22 Women From Across State Trained to Promote Leadership

July 12, 2019 | Arohi Gadagkar | The Indian Express

The Indian Express covered the Collective Impact Partnership (CIP), a project lead by Rise Up, in partnership with the Global Fund for Women, How Women Lead, Public Health Institute, and World Pulse. The CIP trained 22 women from across the state of Maharashtra to promote women's economic empowerment and social justice for women and girls.
Photo by Salgu Wissmath for NPR

With Rural Health Care Stretched Thin, More Patients Turn To Telehealth

July 07, 2019 | Patti Neighmond | NPR

Mei Kwong, executive director of PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy discusses telehealth services with NPR reporter Patti Neighmond, and how telehealth has the potential to remove health care barriers for those who live in rural America.  more

The Secondhand Harms of Drinking Impact 1 in 5 Adults, Study Says

July 01, 2019 | Jacqueline Howard | CNN

About one-fifth of adults in the United States have experienced some form of harm due to someone else's behavior while drinking. That's according to a study from PHI's Alcohol Research Group, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Their research found that in 2015, an estimated 53 million adults—or nearly 1 in 5—said they had experienced at least one harm attributable to someone else's drinking in the past year. That harm ranged from property damage to physical injury.  more

US Suicide Rates Are The Highest They've Been Since World War II, According To The CDC

June 20, 2019 | Julia Reinstein | BuzzFeed News

US suicide rates are the highest they've been since World War II, federal health officials said Thursday, with the rise particularly acute among indigenous women. William Kerr, director of the NIAAA Alcohol Research Center at the Public Health Institute's Alcohol Research Group, discusses with BuzzFeed News how the nation's opioid crisis and alcohol use among family members could be contributing factors to the rise in suicide among indigenous people.  more

Editorial: California Legislature Must Extend Clean-air Checks to Trucks

June 20, 2019 | San Francisco Chronicle's Editorial Board | San Francisco Chronicle

Californians who endure the hassle and expense of having their vehicles smog-checked every other year might be surprised and irritated to learn that those big-rig diesels are exempt from such thorough scrutiny. Residents near ports, rail yards, warehouse hubs or highways with heavy truck traffic who are breathing the exhaust might be even more perturbed to know about the loophole in state law. In this piece, The Chronicle’s editorial board covers Senate Bill 210, backed by Public Health Institute and our allies in the environmental and health communities, would close that gaping loophole.  more

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