The Center’s Impact on Policy
The Center findings have been used to support, pass, and enforce laws that protect environmental and public health. Through a longstanding partnership with WE ACT for environmental justice, the Center’s findings have been used to influence policy in the areas of air pollution, asthma initiatives, secondhand smoke, residential pesticides, and chemical reform.
The Center’s findings influenced clean air laws at the federal, state and local level. For example, findings on the harmful impact of diesel soot helped pass New York City’s Local Law 77, which mandated that all large vehicles convert from dirty to ultra-low sulfur diesel. Those vehicles now emit 95 percent less tail pipe pollution.
Many years of secondhand smoke research helped embark one of the strongest anti-smoking laws in the nation. In 2003 New York City extended indoor anti-smoking ban to include bars and restaurants, reducing exposure to secondhand smoke to millions. In 2011 the City passed a ban in parks, on beaches, and other outdoor areas increasing prevention of secondhand smoke in New York.
In 2005 NYC City Council incorporated integrated pest management (IPM) by passing Local Law 37 that mandates IPM control in all New York City owned buildings. Instead of using common sprays an emphasis is placed on the source of pest infestation through frequent household cleaning and repairs of leaks and holes. If more treatment is necessary sticky traps, bait stations, and gels before harmful sprays. According to Mayor Bloomberg, “The Center’s research about the exposure of pregnant women and newborns to pesticides motivated Local Law 37 and put New York at the forefront of safer pest control methods in the United States.”
The Center’s community-based intervention in public housing brought integrated pest management to the forefront spearheading the 2007 passage of NYC Safe Housing Act by the New York City Council. The law made remediation requirements more stringent for asthma triggers including mold conditions and pest infestation. It also helped tenants and advocates improve conditions in rental housing.
While not a law yet, the Safe Chemical Act would go farther than any other bill to nationally protect Americans from toxic chemicals. Championed by Senators Lautenberg, Gillibrand, and Schumer, the Act would require companies prove the safety of many types of chemicals before putting them in consumer products. Dr. Frederica Perera, director of the Center has testified in congress and to other policymakers, and worked with dozens of other media outlets around the world to build public awareness of her groundbreaking work, helping make chemical reform a national priority.