Benchmark – Policy Brief Solution
NRS 429 Benchmark – Policy Brief Solution
People’s health depends on many factors, including lifestyles, knowledge to prevent diseases, and vulnerabilities. Among other factors, the environment has far-reaching effects on people’s health since it affects air and quality, people’s safety, and the type of food available. Living in unhealthy environments implies increased exposure to pollution and health hazards. As a result, individual, community, and government interventions are necessary to keep people safe and improve the overall quality of life. The purpose of this policy brief paper is to analyze lead as an environmental issue, suggestions for addressing the problem, and impacts on the health care delivery system.
Policy Health Issue Description
Lead is among the naturally occurring elements not abundant on the earth’s surface. It can be found in many parts of the environment, including water, surfaces, air, and soil. Despite its many benefits, lead is highly toxic. As the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported, a significant portion of lead exposure comes from human activities such as the use of fossil fuels and coming into contact with lead compounds (EPA, 2022). Most lead compounds are common in home products, including pipes and plumbing materials, cosmetics, and paint. The abundance of lead in home products and surfaces increases the chances of lead exposure.
Regarding the population affected, all populations are at risk of lead exposure. As a result, it is right to deduce that lead is a national problem requiring a national-based approach. Children, pregnant women, and adults are affected differently. EPA (2022) posited that behaviors common in children, like putting hands and objects in the mouth, increase lead exposure in infants and children. Given that infants and children are still developing, lead exposure has far-reaching effects on the children’s physical and mental development. Adults are usually exposed to lead at work, eating and drinking food and water containing lead, and contacting painted surfaces. Pregnant women are a sensitive population since they expose the developing baby (EPA, 2022). Interventions should be multifaceted to address the issue comprehensively.
At the community level, environmental issues have far-reaching effects on people’s health. They pollute the environment and increase people’s exposure to harm and poor health. Regardless of the level, lead exposure in children triggers behavior and learning problems and slows growth and development (Mayans, 2019). As a vulnerable population, pregnant women can experience miscarriages or give birth to premature babies after lead exposure. The entire baby’s body system can also be hurt, including the brain, kidneys, and nervous system (Parhoudeh et al., 2018). Cardiovascular health and reproductive problems are typical in adults exposed to lead. Such health dangers imply low quality of life and productivity. Unless communities are adequately aware of lead sources and avoid them, lead exposure will continue harming people and the environment. Increased health problems increase hospital visits, leading to a significant rise in health care costs and management.
Suggestions for Addressing Lead Exposure
Lead exposure can be addressed by creating informed communities to enhance knowledge on lead sources and avoidance strategies and through policy interventions. To create informed populations, health care professionals such as community health nurses should be actively involved in designing and implementing health education programs in communities (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2019). Policies involve government Acts and regulations to minimize lead exposure at residential places. Support for water infrastructure improvements is also necessary. EPA efforts to reduce lead exposure perfectly illustrate the critical role of policy interventions. EPA engages in support programs to replace lead service lines in cities to reduce lead and other contaminants in drinking water (EPA, 2021). Other interventions include banning lead-based paints in residential areas while intensifying public education and outreach.
Regarding policy change, the entire process starts with identifying a threat to public health. In this case, the threats that lead exposure poses are explicit. Next, health care professionals, government agencies, community health stakeholders collaborate to identify practical interventions to address the problem. The government is involved in making the policies legal to prevent violation. It also funds many programs such as replacing lead service lines and health education.
Impact on the Health Care Delivery System
Lead exposure implies an increased risk for cardiovascular, kidney, and reproductive health problems. Anemia, slowed growth, and learning problems reduce children’s productivity and quality of life (Parhoudeh et al., 2018). Such health problems increase clinical visits and the overall cost of care. They increase health care professionals’ workload and make illness management in health care organizations and communities highly challenging. Hence, health education and policy interventions are crucial to reducing health care costs and improving people’s productivity.
Regardless of where people live, clean and safe environments are crucial for healthy populations. Unfortunately, lead exposure risks people’s lives since it causes many diseases and reduces people’s quality of life. Children, pregnant women, and adults are affected diversely. Due to the severity of the problem at the community level, practical and lasting interventions are vital. As discussed in this policy brief, policy interventions and health education can help to reduce lead exposure.
EPA. (2021). EPA activities for reducing lead exposures.
EPA. (2022). Learn about lead.https://www.epa.gov/lead/learn-about-lead#:~:text=Adults%20exposed%20to%20lead%20can,in%20both%20men%20and%20women
Mayans, L. (2019). Lead poisoning in children. American family physician, 100(1), 24-30.https://www.aafp.org/afp/2019/0701/p24.html
Parhoudeh, M., Inaloo, S., Zahmatkeshan, M., Seratishirazi, Z., &Haghbin, S. (2018). Blood lead level in children with neurological disorders. Iranian Journal of Child Neurology, 12(2), 66-72. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5904740/
Stanhope, M., & Lancaster, J. (2019). Public health nursing e-book: Population-centered health care in the community. Elsevier Health Sciences.
Public health issues such as climate change negatively affect individuals and populations. The implication is that various stakeholders should use strategies that can be used to reduce their impacts for better population outcomes (Evans et al.,2021). Various health issues are located on the American Public Health Association website and contain important information that interested individuals can use to explore, among other things, recent activities regarding such public health issues. Therefore, the purpose of this assignment is to research public health issues related to environmental issues within the U.S. healthcare delivery system and explore its impact on a specific population.
Description of the Public Health Issue
The chosen public health issue is climate change. Climate change entails several aspects, such as exposure to the heatwave and air pollution (“APHA,” 2021). Air pollution is known to reduce air quality, which then leads to various health problems, such as respiratory issues. Various people or populations are affected by this issue. One of them is infants or children whose respiratory system still develops; as such, exposure to polluted air may lead to health complications even in later life. The geriatric population is also more susceptible to respiratory problems resulting from poor air quality or polluted air. This problem majorly occurs at the local level, where particular regions, especially those near industries and traffic congestion, experience increased impacts of air pollution and poor air quality.
How the issue Is Addressed by Current Policies
Air pollution and poor air quality impact people’s lives negatively; hence, various policies have been formulated to help deal with the problem. There are laws found at the federal, state, and local levels. One such law is the Clean Air Act (Curie & Walker, 2019). This is a law administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. This legislation dictates the required standards for national air quality and how to deal with common pollutants and demands that states formulate plans that can be used in achieving the standards. This policy has also put in place various strategies to help regulate emissions from sources such as power plants, industrial facilities, and vehicles.
Proposed Changes to the Existing Policies and Steps Required to Initiate Policy Change
As earlier discussed, the Clean Air Act has been instrumental in restricting emissions from vehicles, industries, and power plants. However, air pollution is still a problem. Therefore, there is a need to make some changes that may make the policy more effective. One of them is the inclusion of clauses that introduce stricter emission standards. For example, stricter emission standards for pollutants such as nitrogen oxides and Sulphur oxides, among others, should be formulated. The Clean Air Act can also be amended so that it can include and address various emerging pollutants like polyfluoroalkyl substances and ensure that more renewable energy sources are used (Gander, 2022). The regulation can also be strengthened by incorporating clauses that support monitoring and data collection more effectively and providing real-time information to regulators, the public, and other stakeholders for swift action. The law should also be amended to introduce stronger intents of regulating emissions from vehicles. As such, provisions should be included to support and enhance the use of electric vehicles and support vehicle manufacturers to make zero-emission vehicles.
Various steps will be required to initiate the proposed policy changes. Since the issue has been identified, other steps that will be followed include developing a policy proposal including the problem, possible solutions, and expected benefits. The next step is identifying and involving the decision-makers and raising public awareness regarding the issue. It is also important to consider lobbying and advocacy as a step since it can help in obtaining the necessary support for the proposed policy changes (Weible, 2023). The other steps include formulation of regulations, introduction of the proposal, and committee review before a vote is taken. The next steps would entail the implementation of the changes.
The Necessary Stakeholders Required to Initiate Policy Change
Achieving a successful policy change requires a timely identification of the necessary stakeholders. Among them are congress members and legislators who usually create and amend laws. Their role will be to propose the bill, allocate funding for the same, and vote. The other stakeholders are regulators and government agencies since they formulate guidelines, standards, and regulations (Weible, 2023). As such, they will help in enforcing changes. Public health officials are also part of the stakeholders. Their role will include offering their knowledge on data collection and health impacts. The importance of including them is that they can help inform policymakers regarding the health-associated aspects of the proposed policy changes and proposed funding allocation.
The Impact on The Health Care Delivery System
The policy proposal and changes can impact the healthcare delivery system in various ways. For example, the changes can help improve the quality of care. The legislation changes would ensure that there is an improvement in the air quality due to reduced air pollution (Bar, 2023). The stricter air quality regulations ensure that the affected population has better respiratory health. It can also impact the cost of care since improving the air quality by reducing air pollution helps prevent respiratory diseases, which then leads to lower spending by the healthcare system.
Policy plays an important role in individual and population health. Public health concerns can, therefore, be solved using policy recommendations. Therefore, this write-up has explored air pollution as a topic under climate change. Various legislations have also been discussed related to the problem. In particular, the Clean Air Act has been discussed.
APHA (n.d). Climate change. https://www.apha.org/Topics-and-Issues/Climate-Change
Barr, D. A. (2023). Introduction to U.S. health policy: The organization, financing, and delivery of health care in America. JHU Press.
Currie, J., & Walker, R. (2019). What do economists have to say about the Clean Air Act 50 years after the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency?. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 33(4), 3-26. 10.1257/jep.33.4.3
Evans, R. G., Barer, M. L., & Marmor, T. R. (Eds.). (2021). Why are some people healthy and others not?: The determinants of health of populations. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG.
Gander, M. J. (2022). Climate change and the water quality threats posed by the emerging contaminants per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and microplastics. Water International, 1-23. https://doi.org/10.1080/02508060.2022.2120255
Weible, C. M. (Ed.). (2023). Theories of the policy process. Taylor & Francis.