Research Results

Results from grant-funded research projects evaluating public health law issues.

Reducing Traumatic Brain Injuries in Youth Sports: Youth Sports Traumatic Brain Injury State Laws, January 2009–December 2012

This paper describes the current state of laws across the United States aimed at combatting concussions, commonly referred to as “traumatic brain injuries” or TBIs, among young athletes. Since 2009, 47 states and Washington, DC, have passed legislation designed to reduce the long-term consequences of TBIs in youth sports.

A Longitudinal Analysis of the Effect of Nonmedical Exemption Law and Vaccine Uptake on Vaccine-Targeted Disease Rates

The study examined how non-medical exemption laws for vaccines required for school or daycare entry impact the incidence rates for the five diseases targeted by the vaccines, and finds that increased levels of vaccinations could reduce whooping cough cases, but did not have a statistically significant impact on the average incidence for measles, mumps, Hib and Hepatitis B.

Fetal Death and Reduced Birth Rates Associated with Exposure to Lead-Contaminated Drinking Water

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.  

Graduated Driver Licensing Decal Law Effect on Young Probationary Drivers

Decal laws have been implemented internationally to facilitate police enforcement of graduated driver licensing (GDL) restrictions (e.g., passenger limit, nighttime curfew) but have not been evaluated.  New Jersey implemented the first decal law in the United States on May 1, 2010. This study investigates the impact of that decal law on citation rates, crash rates and prevented crashes.

Testing the Results of Municipal Mixed-Use Zoning Ordinances: A Novel Methodological Approach

Zoning laws that mix residential units with commercial and public/civic destinations have the potential to increase walkability. This study finds that significant relationships exist between the range and precision with which the zoning ordinances have been written and the mixture of walking destinations that result within the areas.

Do Specialty Courts Achieve Better Outcomes for Children in Foster Care Than General Courts?

This study finds that children in counties with unified family courts experienced shorter foster care spells and higher rates of reunification with parents or primary caregivers. Shorter foster care spells translated into improved school performance measured by end-of-grade reading and math test scores. Adult drug treatment courts were associated with lower probability of reunification with parents/primary caregivers.

Discussion: Effect of Changing Water Quality on Galvanic Coupling

Two galvanic pipe-loop couples (lead-copper and lead-bronze) were exposed to controlled changes in water quality (disinfectant, pH, alkalinity, and phosphate) and monitored for changes in lead and copper release. In addition, open circuit potential profiles were measured along the junction of dissimilar metals to determine the extent of the zone affected by galvanic coupling.

Public Reporting of Healthcare-Associated Infections: Epidemiologists’ Perspectives

Public reporting of healthcare-associated infections is pervasive, with 33 states and the District of Columbia mandating public disclosure. The authors surveyed hospital epidemiologists on the perceived value of state public reports. Respondents believed consumers are unaware and do not consider the information important, but they indicated that epidemiologists have a role in consumer education.

Effect of Flow Rate and Lead/Copper Pipe Sequence on Lead Release from Service Lines

This study considers mandates requiring the partial replacement of lead pipes and the potential impact on rates of lead in the water.

The cumulative mass of lead release indicated that a typical partial replacement configuration did not provide a net reduction in lead when compared to 100 percent lead pipe. The partially replaced service line configuration also had a much greater likelihood of producing water with "spikes" of lead particulates at higher flow rates, while tending to produce lower levels of lead at very low flow rates.


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