Pollution  Prevention  and  Public  Health:
 A Unified Approach to Disease Prevention and Environmental Protection
The purpose of this factsheet is to provide public  '  ,
health officials with an understanding of how to ,
further integrate pollution" prevention (P2) into every.r
day agency activities, arid'to define other roles health
departments can play to reduce health risks through
pollution prevention.        ".        '-•'.''     .'
     '         ,          •          ,      \  '    ,
DEFINITION: What is pollution prevention, and how
does it relate to public health?

Pollution prevention or "source .reduction" is any
practice which prevents or reduces pollution at the
source. That means using raw materials, energy,
water, and other resources more efficiently, thereby
reducing or eliminating the creation of waste
pollutants. Pollution prevention methods also
reduce the quantity and toxicity of waste generated.
By minimizing the use and production of hazardous
substances, we can prevent those substances from
entering the air, water, soil, and food chain. Pollution;
-prevention is an essential tool-for decreasing public
health risks, and for assuring healthy people and
healthy communities.         ' • .-  <

Public health is premised on the saying, "an ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure." Local public
health departments are already involved in many
pollution prevention activities, such as helping to
 reduce household hazardous wastes and protecting
workers from  industrial exposures. The philosophical
 framework of  pollution prevention closely parallels
 public health with a focus on primary prevention,
 education, technical assistance, and voluntary action.
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 Inspection of Auto Body Shops ~-
 Environmental Health Division B operates a voluntary,
 non-regulatory pollution prevention program .that  ;
 reaches out to tiieautbrnotive repair: industry. The
 program involves workshops, mariuaiSfpn^site assis-
 tance and audits which encourage automotive body
 shops to reduce|he poflution they generate* The  '
 program foc^se^on^i^pductsubstitution; process
 changes,.and better housekeepihg,5such as^stricter
 inventory control -and Increased environmental quality in
 the shops.-    '..-'-;    .    '•:  "   ..'.  •   ,,
roles of local health departments in relation to
pollution prevention?    ,

Local health departments play an unique role in
protecting the public from risks of exposures to
harmful substances and maintaining clean and safe
air, water, and facilities. These are also the essential
elements of pollution prevention.

Local public health officials are responsible for
protecting the health of the community and the
environment. Health departments can identify and
address immediate health and environmental
concerns to which pollution prevention/source
reduction strategies can be applied. By identifying
the pollution prevention players in the community
(i.e. individual members of the community, environ-
mental regulatory agencies, economic development
organizations, universities and colleges, businesses,
households, or the community itself), health depart-   •
rnents can bring people together to solve
community problems.  Local public .health officials
work closely with the public. By incorporating
community perspectives into decision-making and
program development, pollution prevention strategies
will better serve the public because they will be
stronger and more easily accepted. Health officials
can serve as community advocates by ensuring
that community concerns are identified and
addressed, and that other agencies follow through on
 commitments. Lastly, health officials can raise
 awareness about P2 programs and opportunities
 through health and business.fairs, during site <
 inspections, and at other community health education
 events.  -              .

A  Pollution  Prevention Checklist  for Health  Departments:
PC'lutcn prevention is any method to use resources
eff'ciently in order to reduce the quantity and toxicity of
waste generated. Local government involvement can
take a number of forms from making changes within
government facilities and operations to providing
technical assistance to local businesses and sponsoring
community activities.
 Indoor Air Quality
 District C operates an indoor air quality (1AQ) program
 which entails assessing the nature and extent of 1AQ'.
 health issues confronting the local community, .develop-
 ing a pollution prevention plan to avoid future^LAQ.?'.  ; .
 problems, and providing technical assistances-Hi
 referrals to building owners and dccuparitSi^"eif^tnct
 began the program with an assessment of the pollutjon •
 generated from its in-house priritishbp. It tooksfep^^;jr
 Increase air ventillatfon, decrease theusextfioxic :J-. >$;
 solvents, and otherwise "imprdve.indoor airquaiify fn the;
 print shop and the rest,of the building.   -    .  .; : •
For Local Health Departments,
P2 Activities Fall Within the Following
Core Public Health Functions:

Assessment:  identifying community health concerns
and populations-at-risk;

Policy Development: using all methods and
resources available to minimize health threats
through local policies and programs;

Assurance: assuring that all communities have
access to all public health services, such as
pollution prevention strategies and resources, and
can participate in local efforts to reduce human
exposure to hazardous substances, conserve natural
resources, save  energy, and otherwise contribute to
pollution prevention/source reduction activities.
Assessment of Pollution Prevention Opportunities:

/ Identify where the opportunities for pollution prevention
  exist: identify small businesses in the community which
  use toxic materials (Standard Industrial Classification
  (SIC) codes can help), small and large quantity
  hazardous waste generators, and wastewater treatment

/ Identify groups in the community dealing with toxic waste
  and its reduction (i.e. local emergency planning
  committees (LEPCs)); and organizations working with
  SIC codes (i.e. local chambers of commerce and local
  departments of labor). Work with these groups to
  address P2.

/ Measure the community's perceptions, attitudes and
  needs to find out where and how pollution prevention
  efforts are or can be  most effective.

V Identify practices within the health department (in both
  business offices and  clinics) which create environmental
  hazards and/or raise  the need for increased energy

Building Pollution Prevention into Policy

v Use information gained through the assessment process
  to determine the need for resources, and areas where
  pollution prevention policies could strengthen efforts to
  reduce use of and human exposure to hazardous

/ Draft local ordinances encouraging substitution and other
  pollution prevention methods by individuals and
  businesses in areas with-high rates of exposure to toxic

 / Work with local and state legislative bodies to develop
  incentives for local businesses engaged in pollution
  prevention efforts.

 / Draft internal procurement and disposal procedures
 ' which prevent pollution for all local agencies.

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Assurance of->hs.Community's Access to Pollution
Prevention Strategies and Resources Through:

...Partnership activities:

/Work with businesses, schools, environmental organ-  •
  izations. community groups, and'otherswho may already
  be implementing pollution prevention strategies.
  Collaborate your activities.   "          ,•'.•'_.
   f                 .         ,                    -
/ Form partnerships with,the private sector, and reward •
  companies and businesses that  imp'lement.'pollution
  prevention activitiesrgetto know the chamber of  -
  commerce.            •

/Work with the numerous regional,  state, and local
  agencies which  have  an interest in pollution prevention
  such as the local departments of environmental quality,
  public works and economic development..       •.  .,.•

...Community outreach/environmental justice:

/ Ensure that all populations in the community in need of
  information on pollution prevention get timely and
  accurate assistance.

/ Target pollution prevention activities to communities
  which face exposure to multiple pollutants and hazards.
 Household '
 Agency E maJ
  • «*   J •  ,...-.
 identify teasfc-te
 ...Educational activities:    "
 / Be an advocate of reducing risks through pollution
   prevention.                              .

 / Be aware of P2 information resources and act as
   information broker and resource for others in the
   community.'         ^

 / Continue to educate the public on ways to eliminate
   household hazardous waste and substitute safer products
   for toxic ones.  . •"
 In-House Practices
 City F incorporates pollution prevention into the every-
 day operation of its health, department.  It maintains a-
 data bank of the latest environmentally sound technical
 innovations and uses all innovations which are cost-
 efficient and applicable in its design decisions. For its
 purchasing decisions, The city buys and uses energy
 efficient lighting and computers, and uses products that
 are safer for the environment, such as non-bleached
 paper, soy ink, and renewable fuels.
 ...Enforcement activities:

 /Encourage increased compliance with Federal and state
  environmental regulations; in some cases, encourage
  companies to go beyond compliance through pollution
  prevention.        •                    ••'•,•'.

 / Educate the  regulated community on ways to achieve.
  eompliance through pollution prevention. |           .

 / Report environmental health and safety risks in order to'
-  find opportunities for pollution prevention.
 / Help reduce the waste from small quantity hazardous
  waste generators, and help those operators better
  manage the  waste they  generate.

 / Hold accountable those who have committed to pollution
  prevention activities.

 ...In-house activities:
 / Prepare your department to be a community,resource.
  This can be  achieved by maintaining a data bank of the
  latest environmentally sound technical innovations, a list
,  of safer product substitutions, and other pollution
  prevention information to share with the-public.

 / Reduce energy use by  using energy-efficient light bulbs
  of motion sensors, by turning off computers after hours
  or using energy-efficient "energy star" computers, and by
  implementing other measures which decrease
   inefficiencies in energy use.

 / Promote reuse of raw materials over recycling.

 / Substitute products that harm the environment with
   existing safer alternatives, such as non-bleached paper,
   water-based industrial  solvents which do riot emit volatile
   organic compounds (VOCs), renewable fuels, and other
 .  products. ,                        ;

 The Evolution of Prevention In Our
 Management and Treatment of Solid Waste

 As ' r*e "as crogressed. we >"ave moved from a focus on
' r*arag rg ard treating our pollution to identifying sources
 ana creventing the creation cf pollution.

 The fcl'cwtng timeline uses the example of solid waste
 management to illustrate how our practices have moved
 Closer to pollution prevention/source reduction over time.
 It also demonstrates that pollution prevention is already a
 central concept for local public health.
                    RESOURCES: Where can 1 get mere .nformaticn
                    about pollution prevention?            (

                    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and;your
                    state pollution prevention contacts are good places to
                    start when gathering information on pollution prevention
                    and related activities. There are also several good
                    resource guides which provide information on where
                    communities can  go for pollution prevention material's,
                    possible funding sources, etc.  Other manuals speak
                    more to risks, ways to increase energy and production
                    efficiency, safe product alternatives, and case studies,
                    among other valuable information.
 Common Practices in Solid Waste Management     The following list should get you started:
     1.  Unregulated individual disposal
     2.  Centralized community collection and regulated
     3.  Basic landfill design and testing (covering
     4.  Groundwater monitoring to identify contaminants
     5.  Landfill site-capping
     6.  Federal disposal restrictions enacted (Resource
        Conservation and Recovery Act standards)
     7.  Required lining of solid waste sites to prevent
        groundwater contamination
     8.  Collection and treatment of solid waste
     9.  Recycling
     10. Waste reduction
     11. Product change: factoring the environment into
        product design
                      Pollution Prevention Information Clearinghouse, U.S.
                      Environmental Protection Agency, 401 M Street, S.W.,
                     . Washington, D.C. 20460, (202) 260-1023."

                      "Pollution Prevention: A Guide for Local Government,"
                      International City/County Management Association,
                      (800) 745-8780.

                      "Pollution Prevention-A Practical Guide for State and
                      Local Governments," David, Wigglesworth,
                      (800) 272-7737.

                      "Minimizing Hazardous Waste-rRegulatory Options for
                      Local Governments," Local Government Commission,
                      Sacramento, CA, (916) 448-1198.

                      "Source Reduction Now: How to Implement a Source
                      Reduction Program," Minnesota Office of Waste Man-
                      agement, (612) 649-5482.

                      The National Pollution Prevention Roundtable,
                      Washington, D.C. (202) 543-7272.

                      A Compendium of Local Pollution Prevention Case .
                      Studies, National Association of County and City Health
                      Officials (available in May, 1995), (202) 783-5550.
                       This Factsheet and NACCHO's Pollution Prevention Project are possible
                     through a cooperative agreement with the Pollution Prevention Division of the
                                      U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
               ASSOCIATION OF
               COUNTY & Crnr
               HEALTH OFFICIALS
                                         For more information about
       local public health and pollution prevention please contact:
Heidi M. Klein, MS  Director, Environmental Health Programs and Policies or
     Ann Saurman, MPP  Research Associate, Pollution Prevention Project
                440 First Street, N.W. Suite 500 Washington, D.C. 20001
                               Phone:202-783-5550 Fax:  202-783-1583