A Message from Teresa Heinz

Teresa Heinz

When I convened the first conference on Women's Health & the Environment in Boston fourteen years ago, I wanted to arm women with information about the relationship between the environment and their health.

Useful information was hard to come by then. There was a shocking lack of scientific research and policy discussion on the potential environmental causes of rising rates of various types of illness. It was almost as though no one wanted to consider the possibility that we might be poisoning ourselves through our environment.

But the 1,000 women who attended that first conference got the idea immediately. They were moms, sisters, daughters and caregivers, and no one needed to tell them what the stakes were. Everyone there had lost a friend or loved one to breast cancer or some other disease, or had seen a child suffer from asthma or autism. And everyone there had at least wondered at some time whether the environment might be connected somehow.

At the very least, they wanted to know more. And they wanted scientists and policymakers to have the courage to ask the question with them: How is our health being affected by the environment, and what can we do about it?

Since 1996, our conference on Women’s Health & the Environment has been helping women in Boston get answers to that question. And for the first time in 2007, the conference was extended to Pittsburgh where 2,200 women (and a strong contingent of men who care about them) attended. The conference was hosted in Pittsburgh again in 2008 to a sold out audience. The attendees at both Pittsburgh conferences were able to benefit from the freshest research available and interact with experts in health, public policy and advocacy.

The response to both day-long events was overwhelmingly positive and convinced us to host a third conference in Pittsburgh this year. I am delighted to have had a hand in developing an agenda for this event that is grounded in the newest science related to environmental exposures as a source of disease and the policies to protect our health. In addition to explaining scientific data that shows how toxins in our environment negatively affect our health, presenters will share solutions to promote wellness and create a healthier environment for you and your family.

I can’t think of a better place to explore these topics than my hometown, which more than any other city in America has demonstrated both the will and the way to overcome the consequences of environmental degradation.

I am so pleased that Magee-Womens Hospital is lending its expertise and prestige as a conference co-sponsor. And dozens of other partners from the medical community, nonprofit arena, government agencies and academic institutions also are contributing to make this a truly special event.

This free conference is for every woman in our region — and for that matter, every man — who cares about women’s health and who has ever wondered how the environment might be affecting us.

Please plan to join us for “New Science, New Solutions,” a one-day investment sure to benefit the rest of our lives.