Policy Brief on Health Issues

Description of Policy Health Issue

The Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 gives the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to record-keep, testing, restricting, and reporting chemical-related substances (Vogel & Roberts, 2011). It became law in 1976 and effective in 1977. However, to date, more than eighty-three thousand such chemicals are produced in the country that affects public health and environmental health. The EPA has failed to regulate some of the toxic substances since the policy’s implementation is lead products produced industries in the country. According to the American Public Health Association, APHA (2020), the population at risk for the toxic lead is the children, pregnant women, and adults. Exposure of children to lead is harmful as their bodies are still growing. Some of them that have the behavior of putting objects and hands in the mouth are at great risk of lead exposure. For pregnant women, lead can be passed through breastmilk and can cross the placenta. Adults are exposed through work activities, hobbies, and consuming contaminated food or water. Some of the health risks from toxic exposure include slowed growth, learning difficulties, lower IQ, anemia, reproductive problems, reduced kidney function, and cardiovascular effects (APHA, 2020).

Problem Statement

Due to increased chemical substance in the country that has paused danger to the public health and environment health, Toxic Substance Control Act policy is considered to be outdated and weak. Thus, there is a need to reform the policy to position EPA better in managing chemical perils and protect public health.

Suggestions for Addressing the Health Issues

For effective solutions to the health issues caused by the Toxic Substance Control Act’s failure, the EPA is required to be vigilant and enforce strict measures to ensure the policy is adhered to by these industries that produce chemicals. EPA should review these chemicals and come up with possible regulatory outcomes such as banning or restricting chemical use, demanding additional testing on the substances, and requiring labeling of the chemicals (New York University School of Law, 2020). EPA should consider collaborating with other institutions such as the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Human Genome Research Institute, and the National Toxicology Program to develop faster test and cheaper in identifying high and low hazard chemicals (Vogel & Roberts, 2011).  Further, the public should be informed concerning these chemicals and educated on how to avoid those chemicals that are already exposed to them.

Steps Required to Initiate Policy Change

Problem identification: This is the first step to initiate policy change. In this stage, an issue that needs attention is identified through the collection, summarizing, and interpreting relevant information on the problem regarding the effects on public health (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, 2015). In this case, the Toxic Substances Control Act policy is considered weak and outdated.

Policy analysis: After identifying the problem, developing viable options that can address the problem is done using qualitative and quantitative methods to evaluate options to determine the most efficient in solving the problem.

Policy legitimation: For the legitimation of policy in the United States, it has to be moved in the legislative process and finally signed by the president for acceptance as a legitimate policy. Before it is signed, different stakeholders are engaged, such as partners, the general public, and those affected by the policy.

Policy implementation: Enacted policy is put to action by institutions mandated to accomplish it, from the policymakers to policy implementers. For instance, the institution mandated to enforce changes in the Toxic Substances Control Act policy is the Environmental Protection Agency.

Policy Evaluation: In this stage, policymakers perform an evaluation of the policy change to determine the effectiveness of policy accomplishing intended goals. The evaluation process can be done either during or after the implementation process (Point Park University Online, 2017).

Impact on the Health Care Delivery System

The United States health care sector is vastly interconnected with industrial companies that produce a chemical substance that is harmful to public health. These chemicals are used in the health care sector in various activities emitting pollutants to air, water, and soils pausing great threats to public and environmental health (Eckelman and Sherman, 2016). The failure to properly enforce the Toxic Substances Control Act policy has allowed the health care delivery system to risks public health either directly or indirectly. The health care sector is known to hugely use chemicals when carrying out several processes as they deliver health services.

According to the World Health Organization (2018), the total amount of waste generated by health care is non-hazardous and eighty-five percent, while the hazardous originating from a chemical used is fifteen percent. Due to the high effects of chemicals used in the health care sector, it is essential to apply policy on toxic substances widely not just on industries that manufacture them but extend to other partners like health institutions. Also, the continued use of hazardous chemicals in the health sector is an indication of irresponsible health institutions that are supposed to be at the forefront to observe health policies and promote them. Thus, the ineffectiveness of implemented toxic substance policies has negatively affected the health of the public and environment as several institutions, organizations, and companies defy the policy and continue with the manufacture and use of these substances.

References

American Public Health Association. (2020). Lead Contamination. Retrieved 16 October 2020, from https://www.apha.org/topics-and-issues/environmental-health/lead.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). CDC Policy Process | AD for Policy and Strategy | CDC. Retrieved 16 October 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/policy/analysis/process/index.html.

Eckelman, M. J., & Sherman, J. (2016). Environmental Impacts of the U.S. Health Care System and Effects on Public Health. PloS one. Retrieved 16 October 2020, from https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0157014

New York University School of Law. (2020). Toxic Substances Control Act | State Impact Center. Retrieved 16 October 2020, from https://www.law.nyu.edu/centers/state-impact/issues/toxics/toxic-substances-control-act.

Point Park University Online. (2017). An Introduction to the Public Policy-Making Process. Retrieved 16 October 2020, from https://online.pointpark.edu/public-administration/policy-making-cycle/.

Vogel, S., & Roberts, J. (2011). Why The Toxic Substances Control Act Needs An Overhaul, And How To Strengthen Oversight Of Chemicals In The Interim | Health Affairs. HealthAffairs. Retrieved 16 October 2020, from https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.2011.0211.

World Health Organization. (2018). Health-care waste. Retrieved 16 October 2020, from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/health-care-waste.

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