ATSDR in Partnership With
A public health
From fiscal years
assessment is a written,
2001 through 2003,
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease
of available data and
Registry (ATSDR) is the lead public health agency
more than 4,000
information on the release
responsible for implementing the health-related provi-
in direct funds and
of hazardous substances
sions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response,
services to West
into the environment in a
Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA).
specific geographic area.
ATSDR is an Atlanta-based federal agency with more
Such releases are assessed
than 400 employees and an annual budget for 2003 of
for current or future impact on public health. ATSDR,
approximately million. ATSDR is responsible for
in collaboration with public health and environmental
assessing the presence and nature of health hazards at
officials from West Virginia, has conducted 13 health
specific Superfund sites, helping to prevent or reduce
assessments in the state, including the following
further exposure and illnesses resulting from those
hazards, and expanding the knowledge base about the
Vienna Tetrachloroethene (PCE)--This site
health effects of exposure to hazardous substances.
is near the Vienna City Hall and surrounded by
ATSDR works closely with state agencies to carry
private businesses and single-family dwellings.
out its mission to serve the public by using the best
Former waste disposal practices at an on-
science, taking responsive public health actions, and
site dry-cleaning facility resulted in PCE and
providing trusted health information to prevent harm-
ful exposures and disease related to toxic substances.
town's 12 municipal drinking water wells. These
ATSDR provides funding and technical assistance to
wells provided drinking water for more than
14,500 people. In June 1992, the city discontinued
ments and grants to identify and evaluate environ-
use of the four contaminated wells. The U.S.
mental health threats to communities. These resources
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) used
enable state and local health departments and other
emergency funds to build two new municipal
grantees to further investigate environmental health
wells that were brought on-line in March 1997.
concerns and to educate communities. From fiscal
The initial public health assessment for this site
years 2001 through 2003, ATSDR awarded more
was published in August 2000. Public comments
than 4,000 in direct funds and services to West
on the assessment were published in November
Virginia for comprehensive support of its environ-
2000, and the final report was released in
mental health unit. In addition to direct funds and
February 2001. On the basis of applicable data
services, ATSDR staff provides technical and adminis-
and observations, ATSDR categorized the site as a
trative guidance for state-conducted site activities.
public health hazard.
ATSDR Site-Specific Activities
The data showed that individuals living near the
site were likely exposed to low levels of PCE and
Public Health Assessment-Related Activities
One of the agency's important mandates is to conduct
public health assessments
of all National Priorities
reach the municipal water wells in use, residents
List (NPL) sites and of other sites where a significant
near the site could be further exposed to PCE
threat to public health might exist. Eleven sites have
and TCE at levels that could cause adverse
been designated to the NPL in West Virginia.
health effects. Therefore, ATSDR's assessment