Introduction to the Community Involvement Section - Good Communication Is Critical to the Process

Each community near a hazardous waste site has different needs. At some sites, community members have many health concerns and want to be active in the public health assessment process. At other sites, community members are not as concerned about the site’s effect on their health.

Open communication between the public health assessment team and community members is critical to the process. Without good communication, the public health assessment team might miss important information to help evaluate health issues, and some community concerns could go unanswered.

This section explains how a health assessor, as leader of the public health assessment team, involves the community from the beginning of a site investigation to the end of the investigation. In developing community involvement activities, the health assessor might focus on the following topics.

Topic 1.
Defining the community and identifying initial contacts.

Topic 2.
Developing ways to communicate with community members.

Topic 3.
Ensuring clear presentation of information between the community and the team.

Why is community involvement important?

Community involvement is important because many types of information about a site are needed to thoroughly evaluate health issues at a hazardous waste site. It is important for community members to provide the health assessor with information about the site being investigated and the concerns they have about the site. For instance, the health assessor might note that the site is fenced, but after talking with community members, the health assessor might learn that the gate to the fence was open for months and that neighborhood children used the site as a baseball field during that time.

What are some questions frequently asked by community members?

ATSDR frequently asked questions

Page last reviewed: May 31, 2016