Agency forming a community advisory committee to inform health assessment process
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Health Authority's Environmental Health Assessment Program will begin work on a public health assessment in the area surrounding Precision Castparts Corp., also known as PCC Structurals Inc.
The public health assessment (PHA) of the area was prompted by significant community concerns about health risks from past, present and future exposures to heavy metals in the southeast Portland metro area including Milwaukie. The Environmental Health Assessment Program (EHAP) will follow the standard PHA process of the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry.
PHAs use available environmental to assess health risks. The Precision Castparts assessment will be based on soil and air data collected near the facility. PHAs are not community health studies and will not determine whether existing health issues are caused by environmental exposures. The PHA will, however, evaluate whether exposures are harmful and should be stopped or reduced. It also will enable OHA to better respond to community concerns, and to identify and prioritize actions that protect public health.
"Community members are key participants and partners in our assessment work," said Julie Early Sifuentes, EHAP program manager. "Our community advisory committees offer us important information about concerns and information needs, and help us better understand exposures. At the same time, these committees build community capacity and establish transparency."
The Environmental Health Assessment Program will hold a series of meetings focused on the long-term health risk assessment for the communities living near the Precision Castparts site on Southeast Harney Drive in Portland. OHA will be recruiting interested community members who are willing and able to participate in the community advisory committee.
The purposes of the community advisory committee 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. Each meeting will be two to three hours long on a weekday evening. Advisors may want to spend time between meetings reading, relaying information to others, and other activities, but the commitment OHA is asking for is to attend all meetings and stay engaged in the process through its final stages.
The Environmental Health Assessment Program is seeking:
- Seven to 10 volunteers who live, work, learn or play within a half-mile of Precision Castparts site on Harney Drive.
- 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 or nursing women, parents or guardians of children, traditionally underrepresented groups, the elderly, those who have low income, and those with existing health conditions.
Those interested can call 971-673-0970 or email firstname.lastname@example.org by August 24.