Six recommendations stem from 2018 NC BREATHE conference
On Thursday, March 8, 2018, academics, students, medical and health professionals, state, federal and local environmental agencies and community groups gathered at the fourth annual NC BREATHE conference hosted by Clean Air Carolina at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. Sponsored by Clean Air Carolina, Medical Advocates for Healthy Air, the Sustainability Graduate Programs at Wake Forest University and the Duke Environmental Health Scholars Program, the conference provided a forum for North Carolinians to share the latest research about the impacts of air pollution on human health, the environment and the economy, and to discuss the critical role policymaking plays.
During the conference, attendees discussed key outcomes from the 2017 NC BREATHE conference: how to involve vulnerable communities in research; how to improve the quality and access to air and health data; and how to include health impact analysis in policymaking. Six recommendations stemmed from these discussions.
- Science communication: Researchers need to understand the importance of science communication and be trained, so their research is accessible to community members and policymakers.
- Hyperlocal monitoring and citizen science: Hyperlocal monitoring and citizen science should be supported, and its data should be meaningfully used by and communicated to communities, policymakers and scientists.
- Community research and outreach: Community research and outreach needs to include input from the community. To do this, researchers need to take the time to establish a rapport with the community.
- Environmental training for health professionals: Environmental health should be integrated into medical training for all health professionals.
- Interoperable databases: Health and air datasets should be designed with interdisciplinary collaboration in mind, so these data are more accurate, relevant, timely and accessible for analysis.
- Multi-pollutant effect: Researchers should investigate multi-pollutant exposures to better understand the cumulative risk and health outcomes found in the real-world.
Of these recommendations, science communication and citizen science arose independently in each session. All of these recommendations relate to each other and will help build stronger research studies, better policies and healthier communities.
The NC BREATHE conference planning team led by Clean Air Carolina will work with our partners at the federal, state and local government and colleges and universities to promote the recommendations outlined in this report. A key outcome from the conference that was not discussed in the recommendations is the need to prioritize and focus on environmental justice issues in North Carolina. To begin to address this concern, the 2019 NC BREATHE conference will be centered around an environmental justice theme. The conference will incorporate environmental justice impacts on public health, the environment, the economy and policymaking into each session. The conference planning team invites speaker and panelist suggestions.
You can read the full report and recommendations on the 2018 NC BREATHE website.