Wisconsin’s Cooperative Agreement to Conduct and Coordinate Site-Specific Health Activities, continuously funded by ATSDR since 1987, emphasizes objectives that aim to reduce risks posed by hazardous waste sites. As of 2022 Wisconsin (population 5.89 million; 2020 estimate) has 36 sites on the Superfund/National Priorities List (NPL) and 286 sites listed in the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Information System (CERCLIS), and 1,550 sites listed in the EPA’s Cleanups in my Community (CIMC) database. A number of emergency events with related chemical releases also occur annually in the state.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ Division of Public Health (DPH) proposes a continuation of this program, under the ATSDR/APPLETREE Cooperative Agreement, to address chemically contaminated properties through public health assessment and targeted community outreach. We will continue to build and utilize our strong relationships with a broad range of partners that includes local, state, and federal health and environmental agencies, other public and private sector partners, and non-APPLETREE DPH staff. Under this plan, we aim to protect the citizens of Wisconsin from environmental hazards and toxic exposures by providing timely assessments of human health risks at chemically contaminated priority sites that include NPL, RCRA, ATSDR-petitioned and other key sites. We will: provide recommendations for public health interventions to reduce or eliminate exposures to hazardous substances at sites; educate communities, partners, and policy makers about environmental health risks and interventions associated with contaminated sites; build capacity at the state and local level to better deal with current and future site-specific exposures to chemical hazards through statewide educational activities; and promote policy-level initiatives to prevent hazardous exposures. DPH APPLETREE’s proposal places special emphasis on under-served and vulnerable populations, such as tribes, persons with disabilities, English as a second language communities, children, and the elderly.
DPH will continue its successful Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education Program, providing increased outreach and guidance for the safe siting of childcare operations and increasing services to these populations. DPH will work with relevant partners in these efforts and develop plans for the long-term sustainability of this program.
DPH will also utilize Component 2 funding to build state capacity to prevent harmful exposures to chemicals and address health disparities. We will work with local and tribal health departments, as well as community organizations both local and regional levels, to increase awareness of environmental hazards and capacity to act in response to hazardous exposures. DPH will also continue our active partnerships with Wisconsin academic institutions to recruit diverse interns and field experience candidates to conduct projects focused on underserved populations.
The new five-year APPLETREE cooperative agreement will allow DPH to (1) maintain its strong capacity to protect public health at sites of chemical contamination, (2) enhance Wisconsin’s ability to address health disparities by integrating health equity, environmental health content, and prevention practices in existing programs, policies, and practices, and (3) help develop our future environmental health workforce.