In this module, I'll be introducing and giving you an overview to environmental health policy. Now, in other lectures, we've focused a lot on hazards and exposures. And you may be quite frustrated, thinking about how many people around us and around the globe, are exposed to lots of different environmental health hazards. I fully agree, that's very frustrating and disturbing. The good news is, what we're going to talk about today, right now, is policies that we can put into place to actually improve those conditions. So, I should define environmental policy before we get much further. A policy, is basically just a statement by an organization of intentions and principles. In relation, in this case, to overall environmental performance. And so the organizations putting out policy can be public, it could be a local, or state, or national government. But it could also be private, it could be a corporation setting a policy for how that corporation will behave. Now, environmental policies give us two things. They give us a framework for action, and they also give us a framework for setting objectives. So, what are we trying to do with regards to the environment, what is our target, what are we trying to achieve here? And the goal of any environmental policy, should be to reduce human risks that come from environmental damages resulting from pollution. So, I'd like to go into a little bit of depth here for a specific example of an environmental policy, a very, very important environmental policy. So in 1969, congress passed the US National Environmental Policy Act. And the goal here again, was to prevent damage to the environment, to benefit human health. The Congress, recognizing the profound impact of man's activity on the interrelation of all components of the natural environment. Declares that it is the continuing policy of the Federal Government, in cooperation with state and local governments. To use all practicable means and measures, to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony. And fulfill the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans. So, that's a lot to take in at once but as you have a chance to digest that statement, I hope you realize how very powerful it is. This single sort of distillation, really set us off on a completely new path at the time for the United States. In terms of protecting public health, by actually concentrating on preserving and improving the environment. I'd like to walk through now, the four principles or philosophies of environmental policy. Some might argue there are more, but these four, I think are sort of prototypical. Provide us a good definition of what policies might be based on. So, these philosophies or principles, can be used to guide the work of the people who create policy. And policy can be created by formal and informal actors, it can be researched by policy researchers. And of course there's analysts involved who try to understand the impacts of policies. So, the four that we're going to run through are, the precautionary principle, environmental justice, environmental sustainability, and the polluter-pays principle. I will say there are significant ethical and moral issues associated with creating policies. The key one being that, when we set a policy, we have to identify what is an acceptable degree of risk, associated with the hazard that we're trying to regulate. Are we comfortable with some people getting sick? If so, how many are we comfortable with? Or we would like no one to get sick as a result of exposure, to a particular contaminant. These are absolutely ethical and moral issues that sort of complicate the making of environmental policy. So, let's dive a little deeper into the precautionary principle. This principle basically says that, we should take preventative and anticipatory measures, whenever we think an activity could harm the environment. Or creatures in the environment, wildlife or human health. And we should do these things even if cause and effect relationships are not fully established. So, let me reframe that a little bit and said, in other words, we want to air on the side of prevention and take protective measures. Even if we're not completely scientifically certain, about the impacts of a particular chemical or agent. This approach is not common in the United States, but it's been fully adopted by the European Union. And basically there, their policies advocate that, if there's even a potential hazard from an environmental health risk action should be taken to prevent the impacts of that risk. The second principle, I'll mention his environmental justice. And basically, this posits that equal treatment of all people in society, irrespective of their racial background, their country of origin, their socioeconomic status. Is absolutely required to have a fair and just society. Unfortunately, environmental hazards are very often the product of disparities in power and privilege. And so, these disparities result in different groups. And oftentimes, especially children having very unequal amounts of exposure to environmental hazards. So the tentative environmental justice, is basically no group should bear a disproportionate share of negative environmental consequences. And in that, there are a number of sort of sub tenets. People need the opportunity to participate in decisions that affect their environment and health, that makes sense. The public needs to be able to influence an agency that's regulating these decisions. Third, people's concerns absolutely need to be considered and sought out in the decision making process. And fourth, it's the job of decision makers to actively go and seek out and involve potentially affected people. To avoid environmental justice problems. We'll talk more about environmental justice in other lectures. The third principle here, or philosophy, is environmental sustainability. And this is basically the viewpoint that adjust strong and wealthy society. Is actually consistent with a clean environment, a healthy ecosystem, and a beautiful planet. Basically the two major tenants here, are number one, resources can't be used faster than they can be regenerated. And number two, really, we should be aiming to make no permanent changes to the natural environment. So, sustainable development, is a very hot topic today and that basically has three major components. We need to focus on material and energy use, we need to focus on land use, and we need to focus on the development and betterment of humans. Finally, we come to the fourth philosophy, which is the polluter-pays principle. This was actually put forth by the OECD, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, all the way back in 1974. And basically, this principle states that polluters, people who create contamination, need to bear the expenses of preventing that pollution. And control measures that are required by public authorities to keep the environment in an acceptable and healthy state. So basically we're saying, if you make the pollution, you have to pay to control it or clean it up. But of course, it's your right as a producer to pass along those costs of controlling pollution to consumers, through the price of goods and services that you create.