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Vieques, Puerto Rico

Meeting Summary the 2009 Vieques Scientific Consultation

Note: The purpose of the 2009 meeting was to review and discuss studies that have been conducted for Vieques and generate recommendations for further work. During the two-day meeting, participants posed questions and made individual recommendations.

Appendix B - Agenda


Meeting Purpose


Review the environmental, human biomonitoring and health outcome studies that have been conducted for Vieques.  As a group of scientists, discuss the strengths, limitations, and recommendations for further work as it applies to each study.

Agenda for Thursday, November 5, 2009


8:00 a.m. – Introduction by Dr. Howard Frumkin

Environmental: Biota

8:30 a.m. Presentation by Ms. Michelle Arbogast

Reference 7 (see attached inventory) – Toxicological Survey of Heavy Metals in Fish Populations at Vieques Island.
Reference 13 – Preliminary Evaluation of the Physical and Chemical Conditions of Sea Grasses Thalassia testudium and Syringodium filiforme in Vieques.
Reference 1 – Health Assessment for Isla de Vieques Bombing Range: Fish and Shellfish.
Reference 2 – Health Consultation for Isla de Vieques Bombing Range: Land Crab.

9:30 a.m. Presentation by Dr. James Porter

Reference 24 – Memorandum to Chet Tisdale from James Porter concerning Draft Findings in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Reference 6 – Radiological, Chemical, and Environmental Health Assessment of the Marine Resources of the Isla de Vieques Bombing Range, Bahia Salina del Sur, Puerto Rico.
Reference 25 – UGA Ecologist And Coral Reef Expert Part Of Team That Discovered Bombs, Sunken Ships Off Disputed Puerto Rican Island.

10:00 a.m. Break

10:15 a.m. Presentation by Dr. Arturo Massol-Deyá

Reference 16 – Biomagnification of Carcinogenic Metals in Crab Tissue, Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Reference 15 – Heavy Metals in the Impact Area Prevailing Vegetation, Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Reference 17 – Toxic Metals in the Vegetation of the Civilian Zone, Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Reference 18 – Herbivorous: Additional Evidence of Heavy Metal Mobilization through the Food Web.
Reference 11 – Trace Element Composition in Forage Samples from a Military Target Range, Three Agricultural Areas, and One Natural Area in Puerto Rico. 
Reference 20 – Trace Elements Analysis in Forage Samples from a U.S. Navy Bombing Range (Vieques, Puerto Rico).
Reference 12 – Evaluation of Heavy Metals in Agricultural Products of a Farm with Organic Practices in the Bo. Lujan Sector Destination of Vieques (Puerto Rico).

Environmental: Soil
11:15 a.m. . Presentation by Ms. Michelle Arbogast

Reference 3 – Health Assessment for Isla de Vieques Bombing Range: Soil Pathway.

11:40 a.m. Presentation by Dr. Arturo Massol-Deyá

Reference 19 – Science and Ecology: Vieques in Environmental Crisis.

12:00 p.m. Lunch

Environmental: Air
1:00 p.m. Presentation by Mr. John Wilhelmi

Reference 4 – Health Assessment for Isla de Vieques Bombing Range: Air.
Reference 10 – Contamination Produced by Explosives and Residues from Explosives in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

Environmental: Groundwater
2:00 p.m. Presentation by Ms. Michelle Arbogast

Reference 14 – Vieques Litigation Support: Explosives analyses of water and soil samples taken on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico May 11 through 16, 1978.
Reference 5 – Health Assessment for Isla de Vieques Bombing Range: Drinking Water Supplies and Groundwater Pathway.

2:45 p.m.  Break

3:00 p.m. Panel Discussion on Environmental Data

  • Is there sufficient information to characterize the extent of contamination, the level of the contaminants, and extent of human exposure?
  • What are the gaps?
  • What would be the best approach to fill the critical gaps?

4:00 p.m. First Day Wrap-up

4:45 p.m. Adjourn

Agenda for Friday, November 6, 2009


Biomonitoring Data
8:00 a.m. Presentation by Dra. Carmen Colón de Jorge

Reference 8 – Innocence Battered on Vieques, Scientific Investigation of Toxic Metals Present in the Biological Terrain of Vieques Children and Adults and Their Effects on Nutrient Mineral utilizing Hair and Feces Analysis.

8:30 a.m. Presentation by Dra. Carmen Ortíz Roque

Reference 21 – Metals Confirmed in the People of Vieques; Study to Determine Presence of Heavy Metals in Hair of Humans at Vieques.
Reference 22 – Heavy Metal Exposure and Disease in the Proximity of a Military Base.
Reference 23 – Mercury Contamination in Reproductive Age Women in a Caribbean island: Vieques.

9:00 a.m. Panel Discussion on Biomonitoring Data

  • What biomonitoring data exist that shows excessive exposure to contaminants from bombing activities?  Is this excessive exposure harmful?
  • Is it important to distinguish internal exposure (e.g., dietary, soil ingestion, inhalation) from external exposure (i.e., direct contact) to various metals in hair and what effect does this have on the ability to interpret hair data?
  • What are the most appropriate metals to investigate to show a link between human biomarkers of exposure or effects (e.g., metals in hair, blood, urine, or feces) and contamination from bombing activities?

10:00 a.m. Break

Health Outcome Data
10:15 a.m. Presentation by Dra. Nayda Figueroa-Valles

Reference 9 – Cancer Incidence and Mortality in Vieques 1990-2001.

10:45 a.m. Panel Discussion of Health Outcome Data

  • Which environmental exposures should form the basis of future health investigations? 
  • What health outcomes and types of health investigations should ATSDR consider given what we know about environmental exposure, morbidity and mortality of the residents of Vieques, and the limitations of previous health investigations?

11:45 a.m. Panel Discussion of prioritized next steps

12:30 p.m. Wrap up by Dr. Howard Frumkin

12:45 p.m. Adjourn

2:00 p.m. Optional tour of the CDC/National Center for Environment Health’s metal analysis laboratory

* Individual recommendations from the 2009 meeting were taken into consideration, and many of the issues are being addressed in the Summary Report.


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