Since 2002, the Environmental Health Assessment Program (EHAP), located under the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division (OHA-PHD), has filled a unique and critical role in protecting public health across Oregon. Oregon has a population of 4.25 million, with two thirds of residents clustered in the Portland metro area and along the I-5 Corridor. The other third of Oregon residents live in rural or remote areas. Urban and rural communities are often impacted by distinct environmental issues, therefore requiring different resources to address environmental exposures and health-related concerns. EHAP has successfully responded to these needs by working as a collaborative partner with multiple state and local agencies, organizations, tribal nations, and local communities.
With more than a thousand contaminated sites across the state and numerous emerging public health issues in Oregon, we anticipate increasing responsibilities and demands in protecting Oregonians from environmental hazards and toxic exposures.
EHAP works to reduce environmental health risks and improve the quality of life for the communities we serve. Our proposed approach is consistent with ATSDR’s mission to serve the public by using the best science, taking responsive public health actions, and providing trusted health information to prevent harmful exposures and disease related to toxic substances.
Specifically, the purpose of our program is to: 1) Identify pathways of human exposure to hazardous substances in the environment and assess and communicate associated health risks; 2) Implement and sustain ATSDR’s Choose Safe Places for Early Care (CSPECE) in Oregon; and 3) Innovate proactive strategies to prevent harmful exposures from occurring.
In addition to the core site assessment, community engagement, and CSPECE activities aimed at decreasing or eliminating exposures to hazardous substances through site-related assessments, EHAP will prevent exposures to hazardous substances through proactive programs that inform knowledge, behavior, process, and policy changes through dissemination of best practices.
Our anticipated outcomes align with a number of performance goals for the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) and ATSDR, including: protecting the public from environmental hazardous and toxic exposures; preventing adverse health outcomes associated with exposure to environmental contaminants; promoting healthy environments; educating communities, partners, and policy makers about environmental health risks and protective measures; promoting environmental justice and reducing health disparities associated with environmental exposures; and providing unique scientific and technical expertise to advance public health science and practice.