The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) has maintained cooperative agreements with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to evaluate human health implications of hazardous sites in New Jersey for more than 34 years. New Jersey, the most densely populated state, also has the nation’s largest number of National Priorities List hazardous sites. Communities in the state have heightened awareness of chemical exposure issues and concerns about human health impact. Through the APPLETREE program, the NJDOH will continue its commitment to protect human health through scientifically rigorous public health assessments of hazardous sites. The NJDOH recognizes that an effective public health assessment process requires the cooperation of scientists from many disciplines, and promotion of public health requires meaningful engagement, involvement and education of potentially impacted communities throughout the process.
To assist ATSDR in fulfilling its national mission, New Jersey’s program has the following objectives: 1) Conduct public health assessments for populations potentially exposed to contaminants from hazardous sites in New Jersey; 2) Assess community public health needs and concerns in relation to hazardous exposures, and involve the community at key steps in the process of public health assessment; 3) Make recommendations to reduce or eliminate human exposure to contaminant from hazardous exposures; and 4) Provide educational outreach interventions and implement policy changes to promote and achieve safe environmental conditions at schools, businesses and homes in New Jersey. Additionally, the NJDOH aims to decrease the application of pesticides in and around school buildings by developing health education materials to assist principles and Integrated Pest Management coordinators in decision making and communication to parents in response to areas of need as identified by the stakeholders. The NJDOH also seeks to encourage alternatives to routine pesticide use among the general public including indoor use, lawn care, high density residential dwellings, home and community gardens. Outcomes for the project include actions and recommendations that lead to reductions in or elimination of human exposure to chemicals from hazardous sites or substances, measurements of indicators evaluating our achievement of reducing in exposures, and, in some circumstances, changes in disease rates as a result of public health interventions.