Rhode Island’s long industrial history has left a legacy of environmental contamination that threatens its residents, particularly children and others with increased sensitivities to chemicals. The environmental health burden is not evenly distributed and often disproportionately affects people of color and the poor. The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) seeks to protect Rhode Islanders from potential effects from exposure to hazardous waste. This project will allow RIDOH's Environmental Health Risk Assessment Program (EHRAP) to continue to assess and address environmental health risks at contaminated NPL sites and nearby childcare facilities (Component 1), and to build capacity at RIDOH to use GIS tools to assess the impact of sites on cancer, examine migration of contaminants from sites due to flooding, and educate the public about these issues (Component 2).
The EHRAP will conduct site-specific public health assessments (PHAs) and health consultations (HCs) at hazardous waste sites deemed priorities. It will also conduct outreach and provide education to potential partners and stakeholders. These activities will engage partners and stakeholders in EHRAP activities and build their capacity to reduce their own and the community’s risks from environmental exposures. EHRAP will expand its Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education (CSPECE) pilot program to protect children at daycares and preschools from potential environmental health risks and work to make it sustainable without future funding.
Through Component 2, RIDOH will develop tools to examine the intersection of contamination, cancer, and flooding and to educate the public about these issues. This work will provide a model and new protocols for coordination between EHRAP, the cancer registry, and internal and external partners to address community cancer concerns and will also build community capacity to respond to environmental exposures due to flooding. We will develop two versions of a GIS tool to integrate existing cancer incidence, historic site use, and flood risk data. A detailed version for internal use will allow for us to compare cancer incidence to potential contaminated sites and floodplains downstream to inform our cancer investigation process. A less detailed version will be coupled with StoryMaps to educate the public about these issues.¿