Nurses' Group Testifies for Clean Water Enforcement

Patricia Butterfield, Ph.D., R.N., representing the American Nurses Association (ANA), testified on Oct. 15 before the House Transportation Committee in support of environmental reform legislation at the hearing on the “The Clean Water Act after 37 Years: Recommitting to the Protection of the Nation's Waters.”

The Clean Water Act, first passed in 1972, was enacted to protect and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. Now, lawmakers are trying to improve implementation of the law, focusing on clear standards for point source pollution, adequate funding, and stronger enforcement.

“As a scientist, as a nurse, and as a citizen I want to know that the EPA and their state designates have the resources to enforce the Clean Water Act,“ Butterfield said. “It is important…. to know that intentional polluters, who seek to profit by poisoning our nation’s coastal areas, are caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. While I am only one person, I can speak for many of my nursing colleagues by stating that we support … committing the requisite resources to ensure protection of our water and our health. Our citizens and your constituents deserve nothing less.”

ANA and the nursing profession have long recognized the impact of the environment on the individual. As Florence Nightingale wrote in her First Rule of Nursing, “keep the air within as pure as the air without.” Nurses regularly encounter diseases such as asthma, allergies, autoimmune conditions, infertility, cancer, and physiological and psychological stress that are caused or exacerbated by environmental contaminants.

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