NEHA October 2022 Journal of Environmental Health

October 2022 • Journal of Environmental Health 65 NEHA NEWS YOUR ASSOCIATION Melodie Lake I joined NEHA in October 2021 as the editor/copywriter for the EZ department. I provide dierent levels of editing support to EZ depending on the project, giving me the opportunity to work on a variety of materials. I love that I never know what sorts of things I might be asked to edit on any given day, from a training course given via PowerPoint to a textbook, or even video subtitles. The EZ team has been incredibly welcoming and supportive, and I am so glad to have joined them. It is heartening to know that my opinions and skills can help NEHA make a dierence for environmental health professionals. The road that led me here has been a winding one. I grew up in central Arizona and received my bachelor of arts degree in English from Northern Arizona University. From there, I moved to Tucson, where I spent several years working various jobs and eating excellent food. I found that I have a talent for technical writing and pursued both a career and my masters of science from Northeastern University in that field. After spending 10 years working as a technical writer and manager of a content management system in the health insurance industry, I decided to broaden my horizons. I worked briefly for an engineering firm as a technical editor, then came to work at NEHA. My partner and I moved to Denver in 2016 because we love the outdoors and Colorado’s summer and fall are pretty much perfect. We have an adventure-loving dog named Mocha and we enjoy taking her hiking, snowshoeing, paddle boarding, and camping. I also enjoy reading in my spare time and I cohost a women’s comic book club. Outside of writing for my job, I also write creatively. I have finished two novels and am getting ready to pitch one to agents and editors in the fall. My short stories have appeared in several places around the web and I am always trying to find time and energy (not to mention ideas) for more. in our nation’s capital and it was virtually standing-room only. Everyone drinks and eats, and these legacy chemicals are seemingly everywhere and in everything. This issue is not red or blue—it is a universal public health issue. So where do we go from here? I tender a few thoughts for our network of environmental health professionals. I believe all of us should be modestly knowledgeable with the PFAS conversation. I encourage you to keep abreast of emerging health advisories and related guidance with an eye to being the voice of science in your local communities. We should be the chief science o—cers of our communities. As I craft this column, the World Health Organization has declared monkeypox a global health emergency. While not an environmental health issue per se, we should use opportunities like monkeypox and PFAS to share the breadth and depth of our knowledge. Let us stay on top of these issues to minimize misinformation and disinformation. I feel PFAS is, as some have characterized, the asbestos of this generation. While there is not currently a signature disease associated with it, like lung cancer and emphysema (tobacco), mesothelioma (asbestos), and cognitive brain damage (lead), I bet that day is coming. Our profession should show up and speak up when the inevitable public hearings occur—it is our opportunity to lead. Our association should consider crafting and publishing a strong policy statement that is suitable for adoption by state and local jurisdictions. A formal association statement would provide a template for others to duplicate and provide a more homogenous voice in this major environmental health challenge. Beginning in 2023, U.S. EPA will require some of the largest public drinking water systems to monitor for 29 dierent PFAS chemicals. Let us get prepared now to provide useful science-based recommendations to assist our communities with di—cult decision making. Our o—ces and agencies should be prepared to help them interpret data and, in the process, raise our visibility and value to society. The breadth and depth of environmental health issues our profession is asked to address is daunting on most days. We feel like tra—c cops in a busy urban intersection after school recesses for the day. But when the giant issues of our era are upon us, such as PFAS, let us own them. We at NEHA will do our part to ensure you have access to the information you need to know when you need to know it. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on the agenda at the 76th Interstate Environmental Health Seminar held on July 20–22, 2022, in Ellicott City, Maryland. Photo courtesy of David Dyjack. DirecTalk continued from page 66 Twitter: @DTDyjack