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Of Similes, Metaphors, and Intimacy

David Dyjack, DrPH, CIH

Environmental health is the sun around which the health, safety, and security of our communities orbit. The presence of the sun is warm and reassuring on a frigid, blustery morning. Lengthening daylight is harbinger of pleasant spring weather. The sun's ultraviolet light fuels photosynthesis, the very foundation of life on earth. The reliable presence of sunlight is an inexpensive, tried-and-true disinfectant in many parts of the world. It is always darkest just before the dawn, when the sun breaks through in the east, welcoming the possibilities of a new day. Our profession is like the sun.

Yes, I believe I know what you are thinking. "I'm not going to waste my time reading this." I ask you to hang with me for a moment. As I lay down these thoughts, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Environmental Health's FY 16 budget is under assault. Yet again. This agency is the intellectual and financial foundation around which much of our professional work is grounded. While I won't dive into the details and tales of woe, the evidence is all around us that society values our work and what we represent, but does not understand us. Our usual and customary response? Evidence. Data. Statistics. If we could only repackage our report, get the public information officer's attention, or get the press on our side, then the evidence will sway the public's opinion. Sound familiar? My inner voice tells me we are wrong.

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Journal of Environmental Health
October 2015
Volume 78, No. 3