ATSDR -- FY 1999 AGENCY PROFILE AND ANNUAL REPORT
Consultations vary in complexity; either an individual health professional
or a team may respond to a question about a site or issue. In some cases,
ATSDR prepares more than one health consultation in response to a request for
help with an exposure or potential exposure. Health consultations may be
either written or oral, and they are timely; for example, an oral consultation
might be provided on the day a request reaches ATSDR.
In FY 1999, ATSDR and the cooperative agreement states prepared 408
health consultations. These health consultations were prepared in response to
requests from citizens, state environmental agencies, EPA, and other groups.
The health consultations covered a variety of topics, including cleanup of
contaminated soils, ingestion of solvent-contaminated well water, inhalation of
lead-contaminated dust, and final cleanup actions at a landfill. Following is an
example of a health consultation.
Naval Station Newport, Newport, Rhode Island
ATSDR's health consultation at Naval Station Newport, in Newport,
Rhode Island, helped reduce the community's concerns by confirming that the
contaminant levels found in a playground did not pose a health hazard to
EPA requested that ATSDR provide health information about the safety of
the playground, which formerly was used as a fire fighter training ground.
ATSDR attended a series of public meetings from November 1998 through
April 1999 to address the concerns of the community. The parents of children
who had played at the playground were trying to decide if they should have
their children medically tested.
ATSDR recommended that additional soil samples be collected in specific
areas. These data enabled ATSDR to conclude that the playground did not pose
a health hazard. The agency informed the community of its findings at
meetings and in a health consultation issued in March 1999. ATSDR's finding
that the playground did not pose a health hazard resulted in lower remediation
costs. Additionally, the information provided to the public helped parents
make choices about seeking medical testing for their children.
EXPANDING THE SCIENCE FOUNDATION:
IMPROVED METHODS AND APPROACHES TO EVALUATE
Exposure assessment is the first critical step in establishing a link between the
release of hazardous substances and an impact on community health. Public
health assessments try to get information that answers the following series of
related questions for past, present, and future time frames of exposure: