CHAPTER THREE: CONDUCTING HEALTH STUDIES
Alton Park and Piney Woods communities of Chattanooga. The Chattanooga
Creek empties into the Tennessee River, which is polluted with combined
sewer overflows and industrial wastes. Portions of the creek bottom and flood
plain are polluted with deep tar pits. Industries are intermixed with residential
areas within these communities. Past air pollution and odors have been a major
concern of area residents and environmental agencies for many years.
In 1995, the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) conducted a health
study comprised of target area and comparison area participants. Each
participant was interviewed to ascertain the prevalence of health conditions
and risk factors; gave urine and blood samples for analysis for biomarkers of
kidney, liver, and immune/hematological system function; and participated in
lung function tests.
A report published in FY 1999 noted that no differences between target
and comparison area participants were detected in self-reported symptoms,
self-reported diseases, symptoms and diseases related to kidney dysfunction,
symptoms and diseases related to liver dysfunction, reproductive outcomes,
and pulmonary function, nor in biomarkers of kidney, liver, and immune/
hematologic systems. The target area had a statistically significant increase in
the number of people who reported that they were worried or concerned about
environmental or chemicals hazards in the area.
HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES EMERGENCY EVENTS
Since 1990, ATSDR has maintained an active, state-based Hazardous
Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES) system to describe the
public health consequences associated with the release of hazardous
substances. During FY 1999, ATSDR published the HSEES report for 1998. The
report summarized the characteristics of events reported to the 13 states that
participated in the program in 1998.
The 13 states reported a total of 5,987 events for 1998. Approximately 79%
of the events occurred at fixed facilities, and 21% were transportation-related.
In 96% of the events, only a single substance was released. The most commonly
reported categories of substances were volatile organic compounds; other
inorganic substances; a category designated "other," which included
substances that could not be placed in one of the other 10 categories; mixtures
involving more than one category; ammonia; acids; and pesticides. During this
reporting period, 405 events (approximately 7% of all reported events) resulted
in a total of 1,533 victims. The most frequently reported injuries sustained by
victims were respiratory irritation, eye irritation, skin irritation, gastrointestinal
problems, and headache. A total of 36 persons died as a result of all events, and
520 events had an evacuation ordered.
The distribution of the types of events, the numbers of events with victims
and evacuations, and the numbers and types of injuries reported have, overall,
been consistent since HSEES inception.