From the Perspective of Our Communities – In Their Own Words
Community involvement and engagement and protecting people’s health is important to ATSDR.
To hear firsthand from communities, tribal nations, pediatric environmental health volunteers, and community outreach partners about how they have collaborated with ATSDR, watch the video above. You can also read the video’s transcript below.
ATSDR works very closely with communities across the country. We try and understand what exposures are occurring in those communities, what health risk might be associated with those exposures and ultimately if we think those health risks are unreasonable, what steps can be taken to minimize those risks?
It’s a public health agency that was established to address community health concerns about exposures to chemicals and other hazardous agents in their environment.
CHRISTOPHER M. REH
In the upcoming segments, we’re going to have community members speak specifically about work ATSDR is doing in their community and how we work together to help them understand the environmental health hazards and the impact of environmental contamination on their specific community and really how ATSDR partners with both local governments and people in the community to help them understand the risk.
My name’s Rebecca Jim, and I’m the executive director for a LEAD Agency and that is Local Environmental Action Demanded.
I’m a member of the Cherokee Nation, I live in the Cherokee Reservation.
One of the reasons we formed LEAD Agency was the fact that people kept wondering why are we so sick. So we looked up all of the known toxins we had and everything that our people could be exposed to and we used the ATSDR tox profiles. Without ATSDR alerting EPA that we had a real problem here with too many children being lead poisoned, we would not be having the clean up we’re having.
We’ve got children now that can think clearly, that can concentrate, that can have a future. I think that’s pretty important.
My name is John Mellow, I’m a resident of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania. I’m working with Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
This landfill is one of the largest in Pennsylvania. You know, the citizens are very concerned about what kind of health effects are going to be generated currently and in the future.
ATSDR has changed our area for the better because what it’s done is it made some recommendations for the regulatory agency to actually collect additional data. ATSDR, with their partner, Pennsylvania Department of Health, has done a great job in helping out the community, and resolved some of the concerns.
SAUL HORACE AGUILLAR
Hello my name is Saul Horace Aguillar. I am the manager at the Community Outreach Department of ProHealth Care. I become involved with ATSDR because we’ve heard that there was a toxic leakage in our communities and this leakage was caused by one of the old foundries here. There was a spill that leached into thee soil and the vapors reached out into community basements.
This was a collaboration between the ATSDR team, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and our staff to reach out specifically to Spanish speaking neighbors in our community.
There is a lot of information that we were not familiar with and they were able to explain that information to us in a very simplistic way for us as medical providers as education to us, and then also to kind of decode that information so that we can put it in very simple words to our community and deliver one single message that the families needed to take action.
If it were not for ATSDR to facilitate this information and to bring this information to them, it would have caused probably some health issues in the long run.
I’m Stephanie Holm, I’m an environmental pediatrician, I am the co-director of the Western States PEHSU. The mission of the PE-SUs is to improve dissemination of information about the health of children and, and how an exposure to environmental toxicants can affect kids’ health.
The PEHSU partnership with ATSDR has really allowed us to address really important gaps in knowledge and in resources, both for health professionals and for families and that, you know, really, by addressing environmental concerns early in a child’s life, starting from pre-conception all the way through childhood, there’s this really great
potential for improving quality of life, both during childhood, but really through the entire life course.
Each case addressed by the PEHSUs has the potential to positively affect thousands of children and families, and so if you multiply that by all 10 PEHSUs around the country, the impact is really incredible.
CHRISTOPHER M. REH
Our vision is to be the most trusted agency for communities in helping them understand the risk and the hazards of environmental contamination in their environment. We, we really believe it’s important that we connect with the communities on a regular basis in everything that we do so that we can work with them as partners to help
what at times can be very complicated issues and help them understand the risks associated with contamination in their environment.