2008 Women’s Health & the Environment Conference

Women’s Health & the Environment: New Science, New Solutions was held in Pittsburgh at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on September 25, 2008. The conference was sponsored by Teresa Heinz, The Heinz Endowments and Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC.

If you missed the conference or you want to review comments from any of the speakers, click on any of the video podcast links below.

Agenda

Welcome & Introductions

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Leslie Davis, President
Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC

Opening Address:

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Teresa Heinz
Chairman, The Heinz Endowments

Morning Keynote:

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Nancy Nichols
Author, Lake Effect

Air & Water Quality Panel

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Moderator: Bev Smith, American Urban Radio Network

New Science Panel

Devra Davis, PhD, MPH
Center for Environmental Oncology, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute

Claudia Miller, MD, MS
University of Texas Health Science Center

Conrad (Dan) Volz, DrPH, MPH
Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh

New Solutions Panel

Carolyn Raffensperger, MA, JD
Science and Environmental Health Network

Brooke Suter
Clean Air Task Force

 

Food and Personal Care Products Panel

(watch)
Moderator: Bev Smith, American Urban Radio Network

New Science Panel

Charlotte Brody, RN
Commonweal

Ellen Silbergeld, PhD
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

New Solutions Panel

Jane Houlihan
Environmental Working Group

Susan Roberts, JD, MS, RD
Food & Society Policy Fellows Program

Closing Keynote:

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Diane MacEachern
Author, Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World
BigGreenPurse.com

Concluding Remarks:

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Teresa Heinz

 

 

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Speakers

Speaker bios reflect 2008 information.

Teresa Heinz

Mrs. Heinz is the chairman of The Heinz Endowments and the Heinz Family Philanthropies. She is recognized as a premier environmental leader, and she has been a long-time and tireless educator and advocate on behalf of women’s health and economic security. In September 2003, she was presented with the Albert Schweitzer Gold Medal for Humanitarianism for her work protecting the environment, promoting health care and education and uplifting women and children throughout the world.
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Diane MacEachern

Diane MacEachern is the founder and president of BigGreenPurse.com, the only website in the U.S. dedicated specifically to transforming women’s environmental concerns into measurable improvements in the quality of life. “Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World” is her fourth book.

As the co-founder and chief executive of Vanguard Communications, Ms. MacEachern helped develop and implement national strategies to educate the public about such pressing issues as ocean pollution, renewable resources, sustainable agriculture, endangered species, wilderness preservation, human rights, civil society, land use planning, and nuclear weapons. For several years, she played an integral role in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's efforts to develop and implement one of the first nationwide initiatives to educate the public about global warming.

Ms. MacEachern received a master's degree from the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan. She is the Vice-Chair of the board of directors for the Alaska Wilderness League, where she is part of the team working to protect America’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil drilling.
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Leslie Davis

Ms. Davis was appointed president of Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC in September 2004. Ms. Davis has an extensive career in health care spanning over 20 years and has held prominent positions at medical centers including Mt. Sinai Medical Center (New York), Thomas Jefferson University, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and Tenet Pennsylvania (Graduate Hospital). Ms. Davis holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida and master’s degree in health and social policy from Harvard University.
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Charlotte Brody

Charlotte Brody is a registered nurse. She is the executive director of Commonweal, a health and environmental research institute in Bolinas, California. Before joining Commonweal in 2004, Ms. Brody served as a-co executive director of Health Care Without Harm, the organizing director for the Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) and the executive director, associate director and public affairs director of a Planned Parenthood in North Carolina.

Beginning at the age of 16, Ms. Brody worked with SNCC, the civil rights organization in Detroit, Michigan, in the women’s movement and on an underground newspaper in Boston, with soldiers returning from Vietnam in Clarksville, Tennessee, at a free clinic in Nashville, Tennessee, with striking coal mining families in Harlan County, Kentucky and with two groups of cotton textile workers: those disabled with occupational disease in the Brown Lung Association and others seeking unionization in the J.P. Stevens Campaign.

Ms. Brody is currently on the board of directors of Health Care Without Harm. She also serves on the boards of Smith Farm, Bioneers and the Environmental Working Group, the Advisory Board of the Environmental Health Strategy Center and the Steering Committee of the Safe Cosmetics Campaign.

Ms. Brody is married and the mother of two sons, ages 29 and 21. She is the 2004 winner of the Breast Cancer Fund’s Bella Abzug Advocacy Award. In 2006 Health Care Without Harm named their new Nurses Luminary Project award the Charlotte Brody Award in her honor.
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Devra Davis, PhD, MPH

Designated a National Book Award Finalist for When Smoke Ran Like Water (2002, Basic Books), Devra Davis is director of the world’s first Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health. Her recent book, The Secret History of the War on Cancer, was a top pick by Newsweek and is being used at major schools of public health, including Harvard, Emory and Tulane universities. The multidisciplinary Center for Environmental Oncology includes experts in medicine, basic research, engineering and public policy who will develop cutting-edge studies to identify the causes of cancer and propose policies to reduce the risks of the disease. 

Dr. Davis holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physiological psychology and a Master of Arts degree in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh. She completed a PhD in science studies at the University of Chicago as a Danforth Foundation Graduate Fellow and a MPH in epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins University as a Senior National Cancer Institute Post-Doctoral Fellow. She has also authored more than 170 publications in books and journals ranging from the Lancet and Journal of the American Medical Association to Scientific American and The New York Times.
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Jane Houlihan

Ms. Houlihan directs research programs at the Environmental Working Group (EWG). In spearheading work that exposes health risks from toxins in food, air, water and consumer products, Ms. Houlihan has propelled EWG to the forefront of debates on such critical issues as mercury in seafood, contaminants in drinking water, chemicals in personal care products, and the human “body burden,” or what EWG calls "the pollution in people."
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Claudia S. Miller, MD, MS

A tenured professor at the UT School of Medicine, Dr. Miller co-wrote a landmark report for the State of New Jersey on chemical susceptibility, which won the World Health Organization’s Macedo Award. She is also co-author of the professionally acclaimed book, Chemical Exposures: Low Levels and High Stakes (Wiley & Sons). Her research on Toxicant-induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT), the two-stage disease mechanism or theory of disease she first described, has received national and international recognition. TILT proposes that exposure to various toxicants, such as certain pesticides, indoor air contaminants, molds and implants, may cause a fundamental breakdown in tolerance, leading to new chemical and food intolerances which themselves perpetuate illness. Dr. Miller has chaired two NIH meetings on TILT and the need for hospital-based, environmentally controlled medical units (EMUs) to facilitate the removal of contributory exposures. EMUs offer the potential to reverse complex, chronic medical conditions such as autism, ADHD, autoimmune disorders, depression, migraines and fibromyalgia.
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Nancy Nichols

Nancy A. Nichols is a journalist and editor whose writing has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times Book Review, The Nation, and The Harvard Business Review where she was a senior editor.

On her deathbed, Ms. Nichols’ sister, Sue, asked her for one thing: to write about the connection between the industrial pollution in their hometown and the rare cancer that was killing her. Fulfilling that promise has been Ms. Nichols’ mission for more than a decade.

Her book, Lake Effect, is the story of her investigation. It reaches back to their childhood in Waukegan, Illinois, an industrial town on Lake Michigan once known for good factory jobs and great fishing. Now Waukegan is famous for its Superfund sites: as one resident put it, asbestos to the north, PCBs to the south.

Drawing on her experience as a journalist, Ms. Nichols interviewed dozens of scientists, doctors, and environmentalists to determine if these pollutants could have played a role in her sister’s death. While researching Sue’s cancer, she discovered her own: a rare though treatable form of pancreatic cancer.

The book that was to have been about her sister, became a book about the two of them, the rare cancers they experienced, and the town they grew up in. The book, entitled, Lake Effect, was published by Island Press in August, 2008. 
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Carolyn Raffensperger, MA, JD

Carolyn Raffensperger is executive director of the Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN). In 1982 she left a career as an archaeologist in the desert Southwest to join the environmental movement. She first worked for the Sierra Club where she addressed an array of environmental issues, including forest management, river protection, pesticide pollutants, and disposal of radioactive waste.

As an environmental lawyer, she specializes in the fundamental changes in law and policy necessary for the protection and restoration of public health and the environment.

Ms. Raffensperger is co-editor of “Precautionary Tools for Reshaping Environmental Policy,” published by M.I.T. Press (2006) and “Protecting Public Health and the Environment: Implementing the Precautionary Principle,” published by Island Press (1999). Together, these volumes are the most comprehensive exploration to date of the history, theory, and implementation of the precautionary principle. She has served on editorial review boards for several environmental and sustainable agriculture journals, and on USEPA and National Research Council committees. She wrote a bimonthly column for the Environmental Law Institute's journal, Environmental Forum, from 1999 until 2008. 
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Susan Roberts, Esq.

Susan Roberts is the director of the Food & Society Policy Fellows Program, which is funded by the WK Kellogg Foundation and works in collaboration with the Farm and Food Policy Project, the Governor’s Iowa Food Policy Council, and state and national agriculture and health non-government organizations and associations. In this role, Ms. Roberts works to integrate food, agriculture, health and law by developing strategies for safe, sustainable, just food systems that, in turn, catalyze greater health and prosperity among individuals, communities, environments and nations. Ms. Roberts has a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition from Iowa State University and is a registered dietitian. She also earned a master’s degree preventive medicine and environmental health from The University of Iowa College of Medicine. She also has a juris doctor degree from Drake University with certificates in food and agriculture law and legislative practice. 
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Ellen K. Silbergeld, PhD

Ellen K. Silbergeld, PhD, is a leading expert in the field of environmental health. After graduating from Vassar College summa cum laude in 1967, she earned a PhD in engineering at Johns Hopkins University in 1972. A professor at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, she formerly was on the faculty at the University of Maryland and before that worked as a scientist for Environmental Defense. She is editor-in-chief of the journal Environmental Research. She is one of the world’s leading authorities on the toxicological manifestations of lead and mercury poisoning, having done some of the first research on how lead affects the central nervous system. She also has been involved in public policy and raised public awareness of the dangers of lead.

Dr. Silbergeld’s research and professional activities bridge science and public policy, with a focus on the incorporation of mechanistic toxicology into environmental and occupational health policy. Areas of current focus include: cardiovascular risks of arsenic, lead, and cadmium; immunotoxicity of mercury compounds; and health and environmental impacts of industrial food animal production. These projects include epidemiological studies and mechanistic research on gene:environment interactions and movement of pathogens in the environment. Some of this research is conducted internationally.

In 1993, the MacArthur Foundation presented Silbergeld with the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship.
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Bev Smith

Bev Smith is host of The Bev Smith Show, the only national African-American nightly talk show. With more than 30 years as an on-air radio and television personality, Ms. Smith has never been afraid to tackle hard issues. She’s lived with the homeless, walked the streets investigating prostitutes, raised money for babies with AIDS, talked with inmates on death row, and learned to shoot a gun with the FBI.

Included among the many luminaries she has interviewed are Bill Cosby, Vice President Al Gore, Senator John Kerry, Dick Gregory, and Patti Labelle. Smith has received nearly 300 awards, citations and trophies for her contributions in radio and television. Among them the 1990 Radio Air Crystal Award for her live radio town meeting, “Children Killing Children Over Drugs.” Since 2005 she has been ranked in the top 50 by Talker’s Magazine, a leading radio industry publication, as one of its “Talkers 250, Featuring the Heavy Hundred.” She is recognized nationally as one of the most important radio talk show hosts in America.
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Brooke Suter

Brooke Suter is the national campaign director for the Clean Air Task Force, a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring clean air and healthy environments through scientific research, public education, and legal advocacy. Her current focus is as coordinator of the National Partnership to Reduce Diesel Pollution, which weaves together active state-based campaigns and federal initiatives to create an effective diesel pollution reduction strategy. Ms. Suter has worked on a wide range of environmental and public health issues for nearly two decades. For seven years she was the Connecticut Director for Clean Water Action, and was recognized for her leadership on comprehensive legislative campaigns that produced state laws setting national precedents on issues of power plant pollution, mercury emissions, and global warming. Ms. Suter has traveled internationally, consulting on environmental strategies and has worked to empower citizens through local, state, and federal issue campaigns throughout the United States.
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Conrad (Dan) Volz, DrPH, MPH

Dan Volz is a leading researcher in how industrial and municipal toxins and carcinogens move through the air, water, soil, and groundwater to reach people and how to block this movement. He is the principal investigator for the Three Rivers Fish Consumption Project, which has found significant levels of estrogen activity in area channel catfish flesh and fat, related to bioaccumulation of pharmaceutical estrogens and xenoestrogens, principally from sewer overflows. This project has also discovered dangerous and elevated levels of heavy metals, including selenium and mercury, in fish in the Allegheny River and in store-bought fish.

Dr. Volz has more than 30 years experience in occupational-environmental health. He received his initial training in public and occupational health in the Department of Occupational Health at the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) on a fellowship from the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Volz holds a Master of Public Health degree and a Doctor of Public Health degree from GSPH. He joined the faculty of Environmental and Occupational Health at the Graduate School of Public Health in May of 2004. Dr. Volz was elected to the Omicron Chapter, Delta Omega Honor Society, National Public Health Honor Society in 2006.
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