Mass. Environmental Health Workers May Be Fired

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s proposed budget, and the state senate’s budget, both include deep cuts to the state’s so-called “environmental health account,” according to Claire Chang of the Shelburne Falls, Mass.-based Citizens Awareness Network (CAN)

These cuts total more than $1 million to a $4.2 million environmental health budget for the state. Patrick’s budget and the senate budget both cut the appropriation for environmental health to $3.1 million. The House proposed $3.8 million.

Chang said the impact of Patrick’s and the senate’s plan would include:

• Elimination of the Massachusetts Environmental Radiation Laboratory (MERL). This lab conducts all environmental analysis for Mass. communities within nuclear power plant emergency planning zones;

• Environmental Toxicology Program director position eliminated;

• Elimination of three full-time food inspectors;

• Elimination of two full-time state workers who provide services for lead-poisoned children;

• Elimination of “community sanitation” program inspectors in western Mass.;

• Elimination of a full-time worker who does indoor air quality inspection;

• Elimination administrative workers;

• Elimination of two full-time workers in the “environmental toxicology” program, and $100,000 in consultant services;

• Elimination of the childhood cancer epidemiologist.

If the legislature’s conference committee provides funding at the House level, and if Patrick approves their plan – or if he vetoes it and is over-ridden:

• MERL will be saved;

• The toxicology director job will be saved;

• The food inspector and “community sanitation” inspector positions will be saved;

• The Wilmington Childhood Cancer Study can be completed.

Chang said, “Concerned citizens should contact the conference committee members: senators Panagiotakos, Brewer and Knapik, and representatives C. Murphy, L’Italien and DeMacedo. Please also ask your representatives, local elected officials, and fellow citizens to do the same.”

Legislators' contact info is at

Chang said more information is available from Mary Lampert at (781) 934-0389.


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