Journal of Environmental Health (Volume 83, Number 6)
Editor's Note: The National Environmental Health Association strives to provide up-to-date and relevant information on environmental health and to build partnerships in the profession. In pursuit of these goals, we feature a column on environmental health services from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in every issue of the Journal.
In these columns, authors from CDC's Water, Food, and Environmental Health Services Branch, as well as guest authors, will share insights and information about environmental health programs, trends, issues, and resources. The conclusions of these columns are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of CDC.
Communicating Effectively to Overcome Misinformation
Anna Khan, MPH, REHS, RS, MT, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Tabitha Dove, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Sarah Segerlind, MPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
As public health professionals, one of the main levers of change we have is effective communication. Data and scientific evidence are only as good as how effectively you can communicate them. Public health guidance can help our target audiences only if they are able to understand and implement the recommendations we provide.
In April 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Association of Poison Control Centers published a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report article describing an increase in calls to U.S. poison centers related to exposures to cleaners and disinfectants. Using data from the National Poison Data System, researchers found that poison centers nationwide received 45,550 calls regarding exposures to cleaners and disinfectants from January–March 2020, an increase of approximately 20% from the same time frame in 2019. This increase in exposures coincided with increased media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer shortages of cleaning and disinfectant products, and the beginning of local and state stay-at-home orders.
This month’s column describes how CDC addressed the need to communicate safe and appropriate use of cleaners and disinfectants, as well as provides insight into how to communicate effectively in an information rich environment.