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Global warming and public health to be topic of roundtable

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Climate change and its impact on health is the focus of a series of informational presentations and exhibits set for Public Health Week, starting April 7, in Portland.

“Awareness of climate change and the danger to our planet is growing,” said Mel Kohn, M.D., state epidemiologist in the Oregon Department of Human Services. “We want to draw attention to the human health consequences, which are likely to be substantial even here in Oregon, and how public health can help address the challenges of climate change.

“Just a few examples of health effects are heat stress due to rising temperatures, injuries from flooding and wild fires, respiratory diseases and allergies related to increased air pollution, or changes in where we see vector-borne diseases such as malaria and Hantavirus,” Kohn said.

Kohn has coordinated a high-level panel to launch the week’s events. The public health community and general public are invited to attend the presentations, all located in the Portland State Office Building, 800 N.E. Oregon Street in Portland.

The schedule is:

Monday, April 7, 10 a.m. to noon, Room 1-B: “Climate change and public health” panel facilitated by Dana Haynes, public affairs manager, Portland Community College. Confirmed speakers are: Mel Kohn, M.D., State Epidemiologist, Lillian Shirley, Multnomah County Health Department, Rex Burkholder, Metro Councilor, Paul Lewis, M.D., Oregon Public Health Preparedness Program policy coordinator and Sen. Brad Avakian, state legislator.

“It’s easy enough to see glaciers melt and weather patterns change,” Haynes said. “What is less obvious is the impact global warming will have on public health. This is a discussion that needs to take place.”

Tuesday, April 8, 12 to 1 pm., Room 1-D: “Environmental, economic and health benefits of eating local food,” presented by Eamon Molloy, Lloyd Farmers’ Market.

Wednesday, April 9, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Room 1-E: “Challenge of maintaining water quality,” presented by Lorna Stickel, Portland Water Bureau.

Wednesday, April 9, 1 to 2 p.m., Room 1-E: “Building environments that encourage physical activity and reduce pollution” panel. Speakers are Noelle Dobson, Community Health Partnership, Yvonne Michael, OHSU Dept of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Jill Fugilister, Coalition for a Livable future, Mark Raggett, City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Phil Wu, Kaiser Permanente.

Thursday, April 10, 12 to 1 p.m., Room 1-E: “Looking to the Future,” presented by Gail Shibley, Public Health Division

Friday, April 11, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Rooms 1-A, 1-B, 1-C, 1-D, 1-E: Oregon Master of Public Health student symposium features student speakers and poster sessions.

Monday through Thursday April 7-11, all day: exhibits and posters presented by public health programs and partners in the PSOB lobby and Room 1-A.

Additional information on Public Health Week activities is on the Web at

Presentations and exhibits were developed by Oregon Department of Human Service public health programs and partners: City of Portland, Coalition for a Livable Future, Community Health Partnership, Laughing Horse Books, Lloyd Center Farmers Market, Lloyd TMA, Oregon Department of Energy, Oregon Environmental Council, Oregon Public Health Association, Parametric, Portland Community College, Public Employees Benefit Board, Physicians for social Responsibility, Sauvie Island Organics and S.C.R.A.P.

For more information on the Public Health Department, contact Bonnie Widerburg, (971) 673-1282.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »


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