The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) is the state public health agency and oversees a variety of areas including disease prevention and control, health promotion, community health, environmental health, maternal and child health, emergency preparedness, and healthcare licensing. ADHS promotes and protects the health of Arizona’s children and adults and sets the standards in the state for personal and community health through direct care, science, public policy, and leadership.
Environmental exposures are an increasing cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and often underlooked. If successfully awarded this funding opportunity, ADHS plans to create an Environmental Health Capacity Program (EH Cap) within the Office of Environmental Health that aims to focus on two major aspects of the funding opportunity, Component A: Building core capacity to use environmental health data, and B1: Strengthening the capacity of environmental programs and services. Arizona is applying for this funding opportunity in Component A to enhance environmental exposure surveillance for adult blood lead and pesticide exposures as they are linked to many adverse health effects such as neurological and cardiovascular systems and cancer.
Additionally regarding Component B1, there are over 100,000 domestic wells providing drinking water for communities within Arizona. Data shows that about 33% of sampled wells have at least one chemical exceeding health-based water quality standards. In 2015, the department received support from the CDC SafeWATCH grant to help identify and reduce exposures to contaminated well water. Over the 5 years, SafeWATCH was able to increase the awareness of testing private well water and following best practices to protect their well water system. Arizona SafeWATCH educated over 1,200 well owners on well registration regulation; well maintenance, well water testing and treatment options. Our efforts were highlighted in CDC’s grantee success stories. This grant ends in September 2020, therefore, EH Cap would like to build upon the previous work and strengthen the capacity for drinking water services as well as continue assisting private well owners with the resources and education they need to maintain their unregulated drinking water wells and keeping them safe through this funding opportunity.
The proposed strategies and activities outlined in this application, workplan, and budget will enhance EH Cap’s capacity to monitor and track trends of lead and pesticide exposures. The proposed activities will also strengthen the well water service capacity to improve access to safe drinking water, and continue to address gaps in private well drinking water services in Arizona. The collected data will be used to examine community health status, identify priority areas and vulnerable populations thus implementing strategies to educate the target population to mitigate and prevent exposures.
These strategies and associated activities are also supported by a network of internal and external collaborators who provided letters of support to help apply these projects, such as the Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health and University of Arizona College of Public Health.