WPSR supports the HEAL Act: testimony from Dr. Ken Lans

WPSR is proud to support the Healthy Environment for All (HEAL) Act, currently making its way through the legislature in Olympia. These bills (SB 5489 and HB 2009) create a shared definition of environmental justice for state agencies, ensuring that health disparities are reflected in investments, policies, and other programs .

The recently-released Environmental Health Disparities Map, developed by Front & Centered with the University of Washington and the state Department of Health, illustrates that certain Washington communities are disproportionately impacted by air pollution and other environmental indicators that harm health. This new tool reinforces that those suffering from environmental injustice must be the first to shape policy decisions to better ensure that where you live doesn’t dictate your health.

Dr. Ken Lans recently testified to the House Environment Committee in support of the bill. See his testimony and contact your legislator today in support of the HEAL Act!

Ken standing outside the state capitol in Olympia with Front & Centered leaders and staff.

Ken standing outside the state capitol in Olympia with Front & Centered leaders and staff.

Dear Members of the Senate Ways & Means Committee: 

My name is Ken Lans, I’m a retired General Practice Physician and the Past-President of Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, a non-profit with a 40-year history of health-based advocacy in our state. I’m writing to urge you to pass the Healthy Environment for All Act, SB 5489, out of your committee this week.

As a doctor, I know through my own experience that healthy brains, hearts, and lungs are needed for people to thrive and meet their full potential. Living in an environment free from pollutants and toxins is absolutely critical for everyone’s health and normal development. It is an injustice — one that we can correct — that too many people in certain communities in Washington face worse health impacts because of where they live.

In practical terms, minimizing such exposures requires first being aware of them and taking them into account.

The health-disparities mapping analysis tool, that is part of this legislation, provides an informative, easy-to-use framework for each agency to identify and map out which populations are most vulnerable to a given environmental threat.

These individual exposures don’t act in isolation, they compound on each other.  Along with the growing impacts from climate change, these exposures to pollutants further increase the vulnerabilities that medically-sensitive populations already face. 

All this severely strains our healthcare system, dramatically raises health care costs, and needlessly siphons away money, resources, and productivity.

I urge the state to make the targeted investments to reduce environmental health disparity that can benefit every Washington community — helping each and every one of us reach the promise of a healthy, happy, and productive life. I urge you to please support the Healthy Environment for All Act, SB 5489. 

Thank you for all the work you do to represent us.