Monthly Archives: May 2014

HJ News and Resource Roundup 5/30/14

Aaaaand we’re back! We’ve got an extra special, super packed roundup for you today, because what better way to kick off summer than to get your health justice news on? Keep reading below for coverage of the latest in access to care for marginalized communities, reproductive justice, prison health, and local health and wellness initiatives.

Health Disparities:

Disparities in AIDS-related deaths in the US vs. other industrialized countries.

Health providers’ ignorance and discomfort lead to decreased access to and quality of care for patients with disabilities.

Funding cuts may leave immigrant communities particularly vulnerable to tuberculosis.

The junk food industry shamelessly markets toward black and Latino youth, who already endure disproportionate rates of diet-related illnesses.

Eliminating co-pays improves medication adherence and eliminates adverse events in patients of color.

Mental Health and Wellness:

Comprehensive and adequate approaches to mental health and wellness are critical for the nation’s wellbeing.

Thousands of toddlers are medicated for ADHD, raising concerns about inappropriate and excessive use of medication.

Prison Health:

More on the mental health risks to adolescents of solitary confinement. Amid calls for an end to the use of punitive solitary confinement, frontline health workers face increasing violence at Rikers.

Poverty, prison, and motherhood.

The European model for prisons deeply contrasts our own.

Inmates in Arizona are dying from inadequate health care.

Obamacare:

Hospitals consider cutting charity care dollars with implementation of the ACA–a move that would fail to provide care for all who need it.

Many immigrants remain without coverage under the ACA. But will differing state systems offer a controlled experiment in extending coverage to immigrants?

Health insurance plans in the federal marketplace are discriminating against HIV+ patients.

Sexual, Reproductive, and Maternal Health:

More on the shameful and ill-advised criminalization of substance-using pregnant women.

Conservative policies around pregnancy can prove deadly.

Teen pregnancy and abortion rates hit record lows.

On the shackling of incarcerated pregnant women during labor.

Google agrees to remove misleading ads that direct patients seeking contraception and abortion services to right-wing “crisis pregnancy centers.”

The Here and Now: Local and Timely Issues:

Local activists condemn online grocer FreshDirect’s taxpayer-funded relocation of its truck-intensive operations to the South Bronx, an area already disproportionately overburdened with truck traffic and the correlated health and environmental risks.

No Condoms as Evidence policy–one that bans the possession of condoms as evidence of prostitution–will take effect in NYC, but unfortunately does not go far enough to protect the many communities targeted by the practice. Luckily, City Council has introduced legislation to correct this.

The importance of language access in NYC courts for victims of crimes.

A Staten Island hospital forced a patient into having a c-section against her will.

Mayor De Blasio approves the E. 91st St. Marine Transfer Station, which will alleviate the environmental health burden of trash hauling on low-income communities of color.

Jill Furillo discusses LICH.

May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. Here’s how to prevent teen pregnancies while supporting–not shaming–young parents.

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It’s Time to Transform NYC’s Trash

Check out the guest blog below from our colleagues in the Environmental Justice program here at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and from the Alliance for a Greater New York (ALIGN).  Low-income communities and communities of color disproportionately bear the burden of environmentally hazardous industries and exposure. Environmental discrimination has broad implications for the health of these communities, as evidenced by high rates of asthma in heavily polluted areas such as the South Bronx. The piece below looks at the issue of waste management in New York City and calls for a policy change that would make NYC communities cleaner and healthier.

By Justin Wood and Maya Pinto of the Transform Don’t Trash NY Coalition

Thanks to new programs from New York City’s Department of Sanitation, many New Yorkers are beginning to recycle and compost more of the trash we generate in our homes and apartments.

But have you ever wondered what happens to the trash you throw out at work, or what happens to food scraps every time you eat a meal at a restaurant?  NYC businesses generate a staggering 5.5 million tons of garbage per year – and almost 75% of it ends up buried in landfills or burned in incinerators.[1]

Not only do these outmoded disposal practices contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions; our giant, chaotic, and inefficient private-sector waste system also contributes to chronic health crises for thousands of New Yorkers.

1)  Inefficient collection means thousands of unnecessary trucks on our streets and pollution in our communities.

Our commercial and restaurant waste is picked up by any of over 230 private haulers, which operate more than 4,000 trucks in NYC.  Because these companies constantly compete for customers, they operate inefficient, overlapping truck routes and send unnecessary diesel emissions into our air – releasing dozens of nasty pollutants linked to premature deaths, heart attacks, asthma, and other serious ailments.  Commercial garbage truck drivers face pressure to complete their collection routes each night as quickly as possible – leading many to engage in speeding, illegal turns, and reverse moves on one-way streets, endangering pedestrians and cyclists.[2]  In fact, better regulation of commercial waste trucks may be essential to achieving the safe streets called for in the mayor’s new Vision Zero plan: studies have found that, per mile, commercial garbage trucks cause more cyclist fatalities than any other vehicle.

2)  Our waste is disproportionately handled in low-income communities and communities of color. 

The vast majority of NYC waste is carted by heavy collection trucks to transfer stations before ultimately being hauled away from the transfer stations in still more trucks.  The majority of these transfer facilities are located in just three outer-borough neighborhoods – the South Bronx, North Brooklyn, and Jamaica, Queens – which are home to more than half a million people, most of whom are low-income and of color, and many of whom suffer from elevated rates of asthma and other chronic health problems.

“Waste-to-Energy” Incinerators also emit greenhouse gases and toxins such as dioxin and mercury, which are associated with cancer and other health impacts common to overburdened communities.  Hundreds of thousands of tons of NYC waste are trucked to an incineration plant in Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood, which is burdened by  a high rate of childhood asthma.

3)  Workers Face Serious Health Hazards   

The solid waste industry is among the deadliest in the nation for workers, and waste workers face daily hazards like exposure to poisons, toxins, rodents, infectious diseases, and diesel fumes.

While collecting garbage is inherently difficult, dirty work, not all workers are treated equally.  City workers collecting waste from residences have good health benefits, union representation, and pension plans.  In contrast, private hauler workers who collect waste from offices, restaurants, and other businesses suffer from an under-regulated “race to the bottom” in which wage and safety standards are sacrificed for the bottom line.  Moreover, commercial waste workers are disproportionately people of color who earn significantly less than their white counterparts.[3]

The Solution:  Transform Don’t Trash NYC!

Thankfully, our city has the opportunity to set policies that solve these problems.  The City can enact high-road labor and environmental standards and establish accountability mechanisms in the commercial waste industry by adopting an approach to solid waste management that is increasingly being used in cities across the country.

Cities including Los Angeles, San Jose, and Seattle have adopted innovative approaches to waste management in which haulers submit bids for the exclusive right to collect waste in geographic zones designated by the city.  Haulers are selected based on factors such as fair prices for customers, the hauler’s ability to meet city recycling goals, and commitment to fair wages and health benefits for workers.

The results are promising: San Jose has seen its business recycling and composting rates jump rapidly from 23% to 71% after choosing an innovative hauling company to collect all commercial waste.  Los Angeles just adopted similar legislation and anticipates that its new system will greatly boost recycling and composting rates while reducing inefficient truck routes throughout the city.

If New York City follows suit, we could eliminate over 5 million diesel truck miles every year on our streets, improve the health and wellness of our most vulnerable residents, prevent 2.5 million tons of waste per year from being landfilled or incinerated, and create over 15,000 quality local jobs by recycling our commercial waste into useful products.

You can show your support for a healthier, cleaner, and greener NYC by joining our online campaign today!

 

[1]Recent data from an unpublished study commissioned by DSNY (acquired by TDTNY through a FOIL request) show that our commercial waste problem is worse than previously understood.  NYC previously estimated commercial waste generation at 3 million tons per year with a 31% recycling/diversion rate.  New estimates are 5.1 million TPY with only a 26% diversion rate.  Source:  Halcrow Engineers, “New York City Comprehensive Commercial Waste System Analysis and Study,” submitted August, 2012.

[2] After directly observing more than 125 different NYC blocks at night, DSNY’s consultants find that these illegal time-saving maneuvers were common.  Source:  “New York City Comprehensive Commercial Waste System Analysis and Study,” p. 3-15.

[3] EEO tabulations of Census data analyzed by ALIGN show that while 12% of white workers in the waste industry earn less than $35,000/year, a majority of Latino workers and 75% of non-citizen workers earn less than $35,000/year. See Transform Don’t Trash NYC p. 12.

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It’s Time to Transform NYC’s Trash

Check out the guest blog below from our colleagues in the Environmental Justice program here at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest and from the Alliance for a Greater New York (ALIGN).  Low-income communities and communities of color disproportionately bear the burden of environmentally hazardous industries and exposure. Environmental discrimination has broad implications for the health of these communities, as evidenced by high rates of asthma in heavily polluted areas such as the South Bronx. The piece below looks at the issue of waste management in New York City and calls for a policy change that would make NYC communities cleaner and healthier.

By Justin Wood and Maya Pinto of the Transform Don’t Trash NY Coalition

Thanks to new programs from New York City’s Department of Sanitation, many New Yorkers are beginning to recycle and compost more of the trash we generate in our homes and apartments.

But have you ever wondered what happens to the trash you throw out at work, or what happens to food scraps every time you eat a meal at a restaurant?  NYC businesses generate a staggering 5.5 million tons of garbage per year – and almost 75% of it ends up buried in landfills or burned in incinerators.[1]

Not only do these outmoded disposal practices contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions; our giant, chaotic, and inefficient private-sector waste system also contributes to chronic health crises for thousands of New Yorkers.

1)  Inefficient collection means thousands of unnecessary trucks on our streets and pollution in our communities.

Our commercial and restaurant waste is picked up by any of over 230 private haulers, which operate more than 4,000 trucks in NYC.  Because these companies constantly compete for customers, they operate inefficient, overlapping truck routes and send unnecessary diesel emissions into our air – releasing dozens of nasty pollutants linked to premature deaths, heart attacks, asthma, and other serious ailments.  Commercial garbage truck drivers face pressure to complete their collection routes each night as quickly as possible – leading many to engage in speeding, illegal turns, and reverse moves on one-way streets, endangering pedestrians and cyclists.[2]  In fact, better regulation of commercial waste trucks may be essential to achieving the safe streets called for in the mayor’s new Vision Zero plan: studies have found that, per mile, commercial garbage trucks cause more cyclist fatalities than any other vehicle.

2)  Our waste is disproportionately handled in low-income communities and communities of color. 

The vast majority of NYC waste is carted by heavy collection trucks to transfer stations before ultimately being hauled away from the transfer stations in still more trucks.  The majority of these transfer facilities are located in just three outer-borough neighborhoods – the South Bronx, North Brooklyn, and Jamaica, Queens – which are home to more than half a million people, most of whom are low-income and of color, and many of whom suffer from elevated rates of asthma and other chronic health problems.

“Waste-to-Energy” Incinerators also emit greenhouse gases and toxins such as dioxin and mercury, which are associated with cancer and other health impacts common to overburdened communities.  Hundreds of thousands of tons of NYC waste are trucked to an incineration plant in Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood, which is burdened by  a high rate of childhood asthma.

3)  Workers Face Serious Health Hazards   

The solid waste industry is among the deadliest in the nation for workers, and waste workers face daily hazards like exposure to poisons, toxins, rodents, infectious diseases, and diesel fumes.

While collecting garbage is inherently difficult, dirty work, not all workers are treated equally.  City workers collecting waste from residences have good health benefits, union representation, and pension plans.  In contrast, private hauler workers who collect waste from offices, restaurants, and other businesses suffer from an under-regulated “race to the bottom” in which wage and safety standards are sacrificed for the bottom line.  Moreover, commercial waste workers are disproportionately people of color who earn significantly less than their white counterparts.[3]

The Solution:  Transform Don’t Trash NYC!

Thankfully, our city has the opportunity to set policies that solve these problems.  The City can enact high-road labor and environmental standards and establish accountability mechanisms in the commercial waste industry by adopting an approach to solid waste management that is increasingly being used in cities across the country.

Cities including Los Angeles, San Jose, and Seattle have adopted innovative approaches to waste management in which haulers submit bids for the exclusive right to collect waste in geographic zones designated by the city.  Haulers are selected based on factors such as fair prices for customers, the hauler’s ability to meet city recycling goals, and commitment to fair wages and health benefits for workers.

The results are promising: San Jose has seen its business recycling and composting rates jump rapidly from 23% to 71% after choosing an innovative hauling company to collect all commercial waste.  Los Angeles just adopted similar legislation and anticipates that its new system will greatly boost recycling and composting rates while reducing inefficient truck routes throughout the city.

If New York City follows suit, we could eliminate over 5 million diesel truck miles every year on our streets, improve the health and wellness of our most vulnerable residents, prevent 2.5 million tons of waste per year from being landfilled or incinerated, and create over 15,000 quality local jobs by recycling our commercial waste into useful products.

You can show your support for a healthier, cleaner, and greener NYC by joining our online campaign today!

 

[1]Recent data from an unpublished study commissioned by DSNY (acquired by TDTNY through a FOIL request) show that our commercial waste problem is worse than previously understood.  NYC previously estimated commercial waste generation at 3 million tons per year with a 31% recycling/diversion rate.  New estimates are 5.1 million TPY with only a 26% diversion rate.  Source:  Halcrow Engineers, “New York City Comprehensive Commercial Waste System Analysis and Study,” submitted August, 2012.

[2] After directly observing more than 125 different NYC blocks at night, DSNY’s consultants find that these illegal time-saving maneuvers were common.  Source:  “New York City Comprehensive Commercial Waste System Analysis and Study,” p. 3-15.

[3] EEO tabulations of Census data analyzed by ALIGN show that while 12% of white workers in the waste industry earn less than $35,000/year, a majority of Latino workers and 75% of non-citizen workers earn less than $35,000/year. See Transform Don’t Trash NYC p. 12.

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HJ News and Resource Roundup 5/2/14

Welcome back! This week, we’re looking at the importance of safety net health care for marginalized populations, policies that impact sexual and reproductive health, and some exciting developments and opportunities for health advocacy here in New York City.

Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities:

Patients of color with diabetes are less likely to receive routine eye exams than their white counterparts with diabetes.

Undocumented farm workers are the hardest hit by cuts in safety net health care.

Overcrowding in California prisons–disproportionately filled with people of color–leads to medical neglect.

Tennessee Governor Haslam has signed the bill that will criminalize pregnant women who use substances. Advocates fear the new law will hit Black women hardest.

 

Obamacare:

How health reform is changing the landscape of service delivery and increasing our reliance on nurses–and how that’s a good thing.

The deadly cost of being uninsured.

Few options remain for those who missed the health insurance enrollment deadline.

 

Mental Health:

Higher doses of antidepressants may raise teen suicide risk. At the same time, antidepressant use is on the rise among young adults.

Too fat” messaging can put young girls at increased risk for obesity and depression.

 

Sexual, Reproductive, and Maternal Health:

A few weeks ago, we covered the increased incidence of paternal depression in Hispanic men. The Atlantic further explores the wide reach of post-partum depression, which can also impact adoptive parents and caregivers.

Children’s sexual health and safety requires we teach them about sexual assault, starting with age-appropriate lessons about consent.

Over-the-counter generic emergency contraception remains inaccessible to youth and people of color.

 

The Here and Now: Local and Timely Issues:

On the urgency of antibiotic resistance.

Artistic resistance to gender-based street harassment in Brooklyn.

New York moves to ban condoms as evidence against sex workers and those profiled to be engaging in sex work. Yay!

Tell the City to raise NYC’s dismal recycling rate and create new jobs! This is particularly important given the fact that communities of color are overburdened with waste processing facilities and more likely to experience the harmful effects of pollution.

Happy May Day!

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