Environmental protection laws, such as the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, are in essence health laws designed to protect human health. A legacy of pollution on the Gulf Coast is irrefutable. Progress in environmental protection has been achieved over the years, including the protection of endangered species such as the brown pelican, the hawksbill turtle, and the blue whale. These success stories are good indicators for the health of the environment and for people. There is still much to be done, however, not only to protect other species but also to protect people.
The public has high expectations for actions to protect health, and the response of public health officials needs to have a strong scientific base to meet these expectations. It is not enough to spend a lot of time, energy, and resources. These investments need to be guided by evidence.