Graham Sustainability Institute

About the 2018 APHA Environmental Justice Town Hall

To share the challenges and success of environmental justice work within public health, the American Public Health Association (APHA) and APHA Environmental Justice subcommittee hosted “Perspectives from California and Flint Michigan for Creating the Healthiest Nation: An Environmental Justice Town Hall” on November 11, 2018 at APHA’s 2018 Annual Meeting.

California has now produced a body of work to advance EJ that is unprecedented and transformative, resulting in a wide-ranging array of legislation and programs.  While progress has often been slow and political opposition sustained, state law now recognizes the importance of cumulative impacts of multiple stressors, a universal right to water, and the need to actively seek equity in climate change, transportation and planning policies.  

The Flint Water Crisis signaled a resounding wake up call to the nation regarding the undeniable and continuing reality of environmental injustice. Many decision-makers failed to take residents’ concerns seriously, prioritizing austerity measures that comprised children’s health. The population-wide lead exposure is a story of catastrophe, resistance, resilience and hope. It is also instructive and inspiring because of the game-changing nature of determined advocacy accompanied by good science.


The APHA’s EJ Committee organized this session in order to:

inspire people with on-the-ground environmental justice accomplishments at the local and state levels, especially in the midst of current attacks on public health. 

share lessons for adaptation elsewhere knowing that environmental justice is indeed thriving as a vibrant force for positive change in American society.  See the California EJ Resources

create direct collaborations between communities, academicians and government officials from California and Michigan, to serve as a model for doing so with other parts of the country.

Sponsors and Endorsers

The event was organized by Charles Lee (APHA EJ Committee, co-chair), Natalie Sampson (University of Michigan, APHA EJ Committee, co-chair), Amy D Kyle (University of California at Berkeley), and Deldi Reyes (California Environmental Protection Agency) and made possible by the support of the following sponsors and endorsers:

  • APHA/APHA Environment Section & Committees
  • Environmental Health Coalition
  • Comite Civico Del Valle
  • San Diego State University
  • American Planning Association California Planners4Health Initiative
  • Kresge Foundation