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Your Environment. Your Health.

Final Progress Reports: University of Washington: Outreach Core

Superfund Research Program

Outreach Core

Project Leader: Thomas Burbacher
Co-Investigator: Chetana Acharya
Grant Number: P42ES004696
Funding Period: 2000 - 2006

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Final Progress Reports

Year:   2005 

The UW SBRP Outreach staff implemented various community outreach projects this year. These efforts focus on innovative ways to engage community members and to help reduce their exposure to environmental contaminants.

Collaborations continued with agency and community-based organization partners in the Environmental Justice Network in Action project in 2005. Outreach staff provided an overview of environmental health science for all partners, followed by lab tours for youth community leaders. This year, the project focused on addressing the major environmental health concerns of immigrant and refugee communities in King County. Community members and youth leaders offered strategies to reduce exposures at community fairs, in-home visits and training sessions. To culminate the year’s efforts, the community organizations presented their activities and findings to their constituents, the EJ project participants and potential funders at an evening celebration.

The Outreach staff met with potential community and agency collaborators in preparation for the UW SBRP competing renewal application. Meetings were set-up with the Citizens for Healthy Bays group and the WA Department of Ecology on outreach and education strategies at the Commencement Bay Superfund sites. In addition Outreach staff met with WA Department of Health (DOH) to discuss what outreach efforts would be most useful at various contaminated sites around the state. The Midnight Mine Superfund site was identified as a potential collaboration. The Outreach staff has had preliminary conversations with the SHAWL society, a Spokane Tribe advocacy group, and the site Community Involvement officer from EPA Region X.

In May 2005, the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition (DRCC) took two groups on educational field trips on the Duwamish River, to raise awareness about the Superfund site and the cleanup activities. The groups included students from the Health, Environment and Life academy at Cleveland High School, and community members from Georgetown and South Park, neighborhoods around the Superfund site. In September 2005, DRCC organized the first NW Toxics Summit. The Summit was a gathering of environmental, community, health advocacy, tribal, advisory and other non-governmental organizations working on cleanup of contaminated properties and natural resources, such as Superfund sites, throughout the Northwest. The Outreach director attended this meeting and had a chance to interact with community advocates. Connections were established with the Protect the Peninsula’s Future (PPF), a group working on environmental issues in the North Olympic Peninsula. A follow-up meeting in October 2005 between Outreach staff and PPF focused on environmental health issues associated with the Rayonier paper mill clean up in Port Angeles. Next steps include meeting jointly with DOH and PPF.

In January 2005, BJ Cummings, the DRCC coordinator, and Rob Duff, Health Assessment Director at DOH, presented a seminar on the Superfund site cleanup process. In October 2005, Catherine O’Neill, Professor of Law at Seattle University, presented Mercury Regulation and Environmental Justice: Issues for Human Health, Environmental Quality, and Tribal Rights. These Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences seminars were co-sponsored by UW SBRP, were well attended and were well received.

The core researchers are collaborating with the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition at the Duwamish River Superfund Site with outreach and education efforts. They are beginning discussions with the Protect the Peninsula’s Future group around the Rayonier site, a Washington State's Model Toxics Control Act site.

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