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PHI in the News

How the Pandemic is Limiting Treatment Options for Addicts, Alcoholics

March 27, 2020 | Bay City News | Bay City News

According to substance abuse experts at CA Bridge, an Oakland arm of the Public Health Institute, people who use drugs are doubly at risk during this pandemic, not only from overdose but also from increased risk of infection. Medical mobilization to address the COVID-19 coronavirus is leading to shifts in health care that may inadvertently make accessing treatment for addiction even harder.  more

DDT’s Toxic Legacy Could Span Three Generations

March 18, 2020 | Jesse Nichols | Grist

In World War II, U.S. forces used DDT to prevent diseases like malaria or typhus, and by 1959, farmers across the country were applying roughly 80 million pounds of DDT to crops each. PHI's Barbara Cohn, director of the Child Health and Development Studies program, expands on the negative effects that DDT has on the environment and human development.  more

Why Telehealth Should be a Priority for Employers

March 18, 2020 | Jen Colletta | Human Resource Executive

For most Americans, normal routines have been turned upside-down by the current COVID-19 pandemic, and that includes healthcare. PHI's Mei Kwong, executive director of the Center for Connected Health Policy, acknowledges that telehealth isn’t a perfect fit for every medical need—sometimes there are still situations where a patient needs to see a physician in person—but it can be an important resource in today’s environment.   more

CMS Shares Specifics on Sweeping Medicare Telehealth Expansion

March 17, 2020 | Elise Reuter | MedCity News

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provide guidance on new telehealth regulations that would allow Medicare to reimburse for more telehealth visits.   more

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Decades-Long Project is Linking our Health to the Environment

March 12, 2020 | PDF | Lindsey Konkel | Science News for Students

PHI's Child Health and Development Studies, or CHDS, has been conducting one of the oldest ongoing research studies in the world. Since 1959, it has collected data on thousands of families that live in and around San Francisco, Calif. Over the decades, its researchers have shared many of their findings at meetings and in journals. Epidemiolgist Barbara Cohn, Director of the CHDS, discusses how genetics and envrionmental factors may impact child development.
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A resident wears a protective mask as she walks on an empty business street on February 13, 2020, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China. Photo by Stringer/Getty Images

The New Coronavirus and Racist Tropes

February 25, 2020 | Columbia Journalism Review

As news of the coronavirus—now known as covid-19—spreads throughout the nation, racism is also rapidly increasing. PHI's Pamela Mejia, head of research at the Berkeley Media Studies Group has noticed exoticizing language—references to “tradition” and “superstition”—in lots of the coronavirus coverage.  more

Laura Montoya, left, and Veronica Ocana, center, receive dental information from Jefferson Dental community manager Dely Acosta, right, during a health and safety fair at Pleasant Grove Christian Church in Dallas, Jan. 25, 2020. The fair hosted a variety of health and safety information, as well as free flu shots by the Dallas County Health Department, and free lab tests checking cholesterol, STDs, thyroid, diabetes and glucose levels. Ben Torres/Special Contributor(Ben Torres / Special Contributor)

Dallas Health Officials identified Five Zip Codes as the Most Unhealthy. Here’s How They Plan to Fix it.

January 30, 2020 | Nic Garcia | The Dallas Morning News

Dallas has identified the county's most unhealthy cities, and PHI's Kevin Barnett, along with other health leaders are set to brief more than 300 health professionals of their strategic plan aimed at reversing historic inequities and improving the county’s overall well-being.   more

Why California is Banning Chlorpyrifos, a Widely Used Pesticide: 5 Questions Answered

January 23, 2020 | Gina Solomon | US News

The state of California is ending the use of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide associated with neurodevelopmental problems and impaired brain function in children. Gina Solomon, a principal investigator at the Public Health Institute and clinical professor at the University of California San Francisco, explains the scientific evidence that led California to act.  more

Dr. Gina Solomon with the Public Health Institute talks about the research that led to a ban of chlorpyrifos in California (Photo: Alex Brauer, Sinclair Broadcast Group)

Pesticide That Could Impact Children's Health is Still Widely Used in Many States

January 16, 2020 | Joce Sterman and Alex Brauer | WWMT

In many farming communities, there is a lack of buffers of protection between agricultural fields, schools and homes. A pesticide that has been banned for use in home gardens is still being used by commercial farmers in nearly every state. Congressional lawmakers are joining the fight to propose bans on the toxic pesticides that threaten the health of communities.   more

In this June 16, 2016, file photo, bottles of wine are displayed during a tour of a state liquor store, in Salt Lake City. RICK BOWMER, FILE AP PHOTO

US Drinking More Now Than Just Before Prohibition

January 14, 2020 | Mike Stobbe | AP News

According to federal health statistics, Americans are drinking more now than when Prohibition was enacted a century earlier. The consumption of alcohol has been rising for past two decades, and it’s not clear when it will fall again.   more

Children play at a waterfront park near the industrial Port of Los Angeles, between the Valero and Phillips 66 refineries right beside the Los Angeles Port. Photo by Iris Schneider for CALmatters.

‘Troubling’ Audit Reveals State Failure to Test Millions of Babies for Toxic Lead

January 07, 2020 | Elizabeth Aguilera | CAL Matters

A new report from the California state auditor found 1.4 million toddlers enrolled in Medi-Cal had gone untested for lead exposure over the past decade, and another 740,000 missed one of two required screenings—a failure encompassing nearly three-quarters of the babies covered by the state’s publicly-funded health insurance program. “There is no enforcement mechanism so the situation continues as is,” said Daniel Madrigal, a health educator for PHI's Tracking California.  more

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

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