PHLR Funds Nine New Studies

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The public health effects of laws on issues such as prescription drug abuse, occupational health and safety, and distracted driving will be investigated through nine new research projects. The grants announced today total nearly $1.1 million and will support short-term and time-sensitive studies on specific laws or regulations and the development of legal datasets.

Exposure to Lead-Contaminated Drinking Water Associated with Reduced Birth Rates and Increased Fetal Death, New Study Finds

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Increased exposure to lead-contaminated drinking water in Washington, DC, is a possible cause for a sharp increase in fetal deaths and somewhat lower birth rates in the region in 2000 to 2003 and again from 2007 to 2009, according to a new study published online by the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

The study attributes the spike in fetal deaths from 2001-2003 to a switch in drinking water disinfectant from chlorine to chloramine, which caused an unintended release of lead from plumbing material into drinking water.  

Strengthening the Criteria for Non-Medical Exemptions for Vaccines Could Decrease Cases of Whooping Cough, New Study Finds

Thursday, December 12, 2013

State laws that set strict standards for children to be exempted from vaccines on religious or philosophical grounds could reduce the number of whooping cough cases, but not measles, mumps, haemophilus influenza type B (Hib) or Hepatitis B, according to a new study published today in the American Journal of Public Health.

Maps outlining water quality regulations related to oil and gas development now available

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A new interactive map detailing laws and regulations governing water quality issues associated with increased shale oil and gas activities in 11 states was released today on The map includes laws and regulations from Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming. 

These states overlay major shale regions, such as the Bakken, Eagle Ford, Greater Green River, Marcellus, Niobrara, Piceance, San Juan, Permian, Powder River, Mancos, and Uinta.

State Child Car Seat Laws Are Leaving Many Children Unprotected, Study Finds

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Many state laws on car seats and seat belts may leave children unprotected and vulnerable to injuries caused in vehicle crashes, according to a new study published this week in Social Science and Medicine.

In the US, nearly 250,000 children are injured every year in car crashes, and approximately 2,000 die from their injuries, according to federal data. Most of these fatalities and injuries are preventable.

Map Outlining Laws Governing the Release and Use of Personally Identifiable Information Now Available

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

An interactive map examining laws that govern the release and use of communicable disease-related patient information is now available on, the Public Health Law Research (PHLR) website dedicated to legal and policy surveillance. The newly released map examines laws across all 50 states and the District of Columbia and clarifies the varied national lands

Antibiotics Withdrawn from the Market Three Times More Often Than Other Drugs, According to New Study

Monday, September 23, 2013

More than 40 percent of the antibiotics released between 1980 and 2009 were withdrawn from the market for safety concerns, lack of effectiveness compared to existing drugs, and weak sales, according to the first study to evaluate the status of 30 years of antibiotic approvals by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The study, released today in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, found that antibiotics were withdrawn from the market at a rate three times higher than other drugs released between 1980 and 2009.

New Critical Opportunities Videos & Journal Article Offer Evidence-Based Solutions

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ten new videos released today present ideas and evidence to support proposed legal and policy changes that can positively impact public health challenges.

“Laws can be cost-efficient and popular tools for achieving public health goals. This initiative captures specific actionable, evidence-based ideas for creative ways of using law or legal interventions to improve a public health problem,” said Scott Burris, JD, director of the PHLR program.

Study finds nearly half of Washington State's distracted drivers are texting

Monday, September 9, 2013

In Washington state's first study to examine driver use of electronic devices, investigators from the University of Washington found that more than 8 percent of drivers were engaged in the use of devices behind the wheel, higher than previously estimated. Among those driving distracted, nearly half (45 percent) were observed texting.