Dr. Jamie Bartram, Don and Jennifer Holzworth Distinguished Professor in the department of environmental sciences and engineering at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, and director of The Water Institute at UNC, has been appointed to lead the newly expanded Secretaries’ Science Advisory Board, overseen by the secretaries of North Carolina’s state environmental quality and health agencies.
[Photo: Dr. Jamie Bartram]
The board, which will hold its first meeting October 23, is tasked with studying ways to better protect public health and the environment from new or emerging chemicals of concern, including GenX and hexavalent chromium.
Dr. Bartram has multiple interests in the areas of water quality, including management systems for drinking water safety and rural drinking water supply.
“Dr. Bartram is a leader in the field of water and health, and will help guide a panel of experts in the fields of epidemiology, toxicology and other disciplines,” said Mr. Michael S. Regan, secretary of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). “With these experts, we will have the range of scientific expertise necessary to protect public health and the quality of our water and air.”
The group, formerly based only in DEQ, now will be co-managed by Mr. Regan and Ms. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Board members are from academic institutions, the public and private sectors, and independent research facilities.
“We are eager to convene this panel, conduct inquiries and take actions that will put first the health of our citizens and safety of our environment,” said Ms. Cohen.
The panel will meet at least six times each year. Its members will assist DEQ and DHHS in achieving clean air, water and land.
Specifically, panel members will perform or recommend reviews and evaluations of contaminants released to the environment; act as consultants on DEQ’s determinations to regulate releases of contaminants; assist both agencies in identifying contaminants of emerging concern and help determine whether the contaminants should be studied further; assist the secretaries in providing expertise to evaluate the human and environmental impacts of exposure to hazardous contaminants; and provide input to DHHS as the agency establishes health goals for emerging contaminants.
“Environmental exposures are important and often overlooked causes of disease worldwide,” Dr. Bartram said. “I am extremely pleased to see the leadership of North Carolina tackle emerging hazards. I look forward to seeing the board provide practical, workable support to Gov. Cooper and DEQ so that we may effectively address the needs of the people of our state.”
The science panel will conduct business in an open forum to allow for public input and will offer much-needed peer review of available scientific data.