A leading public health organization is criticizing the Trump administration for two recent actions that it says shows “a disregard for science and evidence when it comes to the environment and safeguarding health.”

The first, according to the American Public Health Association (APHA), involved the Interior Department’s halt of a scientific study already underway examining health risks for people living near mountaintop-removal coal mining sites.

"Climate change" vanishes from government website

The second: changes to the website of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), whose mission is to discover how the environment affects human health. In a move the APHA says demonstrates that “the rhetoric of climate change denial won out,” the phrase “climate change” was replaced with “climate” across many web pages. Additionally, access to a fact sheet on the relationship between climate change and human health was removed.

“Public health and medical professionals don’t have the luxury of turning away from research and evidence when it comes to environmental health,” said the APHA in a statement. “We see the evidence of climate change and poor environmental health every day in emergency rooms, in increasing asthma attacks, in the spread of Zika, in more deaths from heat stroke in the elderly, and as we clean up the aftermath of more extreme and unpredictable weather events each year.

"Undeniable" connection

“Whether or not the federal government chooses to communicate or quantify these threats, the connection between environment and human health is undeniable. Climate change is the greatest public health challenge of our generation, and the scientific and health communities need the cooperation of the administration to address and prepare for its impact. Continued research in environmental health is critical as public health professionals work to keep communities safe and healthy.

“Now is not the time to silence science.”

About APHA

APHA is a 145-year-old organization that speaks out for public health issues and policies backed by science in an effort to influence federal policy to improve the public’s health. www.apha.org.