Agency is forming community advisory committees to inform health assessments
PORTLAND—The Oregon Health Authority's Environmental Health Assessment Program (EHAP) has begun work on Public Health Assessments (PHAs) in response to significant community concerns about health risks from past, present and future exposures to heavy metals emitted by glass manufacturers.
The program will use the standard public health assessment process from the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry's (ATSDR). PHAs assess health risks based on available environmental data. The Bullseye Glass Co. and Uroboros Glass assessments will be based on soil and air data collected near both facilities. PHAs are not community health studies and will not determine whether existing health issues are caused by environmental exposures.
"We welcome community members as partners in our work," said Julie Early Sifuentes, EHAP program manager. "We understand that meaningful engagement in the process by those most affected by this issue allows for concerns to be adequately addressed, builds community capacity, establishes transparency and creates better outcomes."
The program is convening a series of meetings focused on the long-term health risk assessment for the communities living near the two glass manufacturing sites. OHA will be recruiting interested community members who are willing and able to participate in a community advisory committee for each site.
The purposes of community advisory committees are to:
- Receive input and feedback from local residents into exposure assumptions and recommendations.
- Educate participants about the PHA process and build capacity in environmental health.
- Develop relationships with local residents, and establish transparency in the long-term public health assessment process.
- Identify the most relevant ways of communicating to the broader community about the PHA process, and about the conclusions and recommendations.
- Ensure that community concerns are highlighted, incorporated and addressed through the PHA process.
The PHA process will require participation in three to five advisory committee meetings for each site. Each meeting will be about two hours long. Advisors may want to spend time between meetings reading, relaying information to others, or other activities, but the commitment OHA is asking for is to attend all meetings and stay engaged in the process through its final stages.
EHAP is seeking:
- Seven to 10 volunteers who live, work, learn or play within a half-mile of Bullseye or Uroboros glass facilities.
- Individuals who can commit to attending every meeting.
- A diversity of experience and perspectives.
- Individuals who are at greatest risk from the effects of environmental contamination, including pregnant and nursing women, parents or guardians of children, minorities, the elderly, those who are low-income, and those with existing health conditions.
Community members interested in participating in either advisory group can call 971-673-0970 or email Ehap.email@example.com by May 17.