Maria Valenti

 Director, Health and Environment Literacy Project (HELP)

HELP works to raise awareness and improve environmental health literacy among health professionals, health advocates, policy makers, and young people regarding the multiple environmental factors that affect health across the lifespan. Current work includes consulting with the Western States Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (WSPEHSU) on a variety of publications and communication projects. These include Safer Disinfecting during COVID-19, the Childhood Development, Resilience and the Environment free Continuing Education (CE) course, and A Story of Health , a multimedia eBook and free CE course. The most recent chapter is on the health effects of wildfire smoke. A Story of Health is a collaboration among the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), Commonweal, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, California EPA (OEHHA), the Science and Environmental Health Network (SEHN), and the WSPEHSU and includes detailed chapters/stories on asthma, developmental disabilities, infertility and reproductive health, childhood leukemia and cognitive decline. Other ongoing work includes consulting with the Boston University Superfund Research Project on research translation outreach relating to their research on the effects of exposures to substances commonly encountered in hazardous waste disposal on reproduction and development in humans and wildlife.

Prior to the past decade of her work with Commonweal, Maria served for nearly two decades as executive director of Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility where she helped develop and manage national and multi-state environmental health education and training programs including the In Harm’s Way Training Program for Health Professionals with CE courses held at seven medical centers across the country, the Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit multi-part project (materials development, pilot study, training program in five states, and development of an online free CE course), and Environmental Drivers of Chronic Disease, focusing on healthy aging across the lifespan. Major publications she co-authored include Generations at Risk: Reproductive Health & the Environment (MIT Press); In Harm’s Way: Toxic Threats to Child Development; the Pediatric Environmental Health Toolkit; and Environmental Threats to Healthy Aging: With a Closer Look at Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases.