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Professional Services

The Health Assessment Section’s mission is to evaluate and prevent exposure and adverse human health effects associated with exposure to hazardous substances   from waste sites, unplanned releases and other sources of pollution present in Ohio’s environment. The services provided:

Public Health Assessment (PHA)

A Public Health Assessment (PHA) evaluates data and information on the release of hazardous substances into the environment in order to assess any current or future impact on public health. The Health Assessment Section works with other agencies  and community members to answer these questions:

  • What are the chemicals found at a specific site?
  • How can those chemicals affect public health?
  • Is there a health threat to the people living near the site?
  • What is the future public health threat from the site? 
  • What actions are recommended to protect the public from the site hazard?
  • How can the State of Ohio or the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) help the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Ohio EPA best protect public health in its cleanup decisions?

Health Consultation

Health consultations are similar to the Public Health Assessment. However, a health consultation will usually address one specific site-related public health concern. A series of health consultations may be written for one site.

Health consultations, which are intended to prevent or reduce the hazardous levels   of exposure to toxic substances, may lead to recommendations for specific actions. Actions such as restricting the use of or replacing water supplies, intensifying environmental sampling, restricting site access or removing contaminated materials   are just a few public health actions that may be suggested.

The health consultation may also produce comment addressing the plan for a site cleanup. For instance, the EPA might design a plan that outlines what is to be sampled at a specific site. After a review of the plan, the Health Assessment Section might add additional sampling and/or request specific sampling methods.

Exposure Investigations

An exposure investigation gathers and analyzes data from a hazardous site location and from the people that live close to that site. To determine if a site contains or released hazardous chemicals, samples can be gathered from air monitors, underground drinking water, and collected soil samples. To evaluate whether people have been exposed to hazardous substances near a site, information may be gathered by looking at medical records and testing blood, urine or hair samples to determine if higher levels of chemicals can be detected.   

Emergency Response

To improve the response to emergencies involving exposure to hazardous substances, the Health Assessment Section provides health-related support to the U.S. EPA, the Ohio EPA and local health departments, offering site-specific information, health consultations and health information to affected communities. Emergency responses include mercury spills, chemical releases from operational facilities and chemical spills from accidents.

Community Involvement

Community health concerns constitute an important part of the Health Assessment process. The Community Involvement (CI) - Health Education (HE) staff will participate in site visits and act as the liaison between the scientists (health assessors) that are collecting and analyzing the data and the community that is affected. CI staff will provide community-based information and serve as a source of information about activities being conducted by the ATSDR, U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA. CI staff will also announce site-related meetings and the public comment period for health assessments.

Health Education

Health education activities involve the Health Assessment Section working with a variety of health agencies and community partnerships to incorporate the health concerns of the community living near a hazardous waste site. Activities include:

  • Develop and provide consistent, understandable fact sheets that address the chemicals found at the site.
  • Disseminate materials on the health effects of the toxic substances to the community and the physicians and other health care providers that serve that community.
  • Give presentations about site-specific or general environmental health issues to the affected communities and stakeholders, schools, environmental groups and a variety of health professionals.

 HAS Program Power Point Presentation

Last updated: 12/7/2015