Back to Annual Meeting
Back to Annual Meeting
APHA Scientific Session and Event Listing

Health education and empowerment: The community response to an environmental injustice in a mining town in Peru

Fernando Serrano1, David Sterling, PhD, CIH2, and Angela Hobson, MPH2. (1) Environmental and Occupational Health, Saint Louis University, 3545 Lafayette Ave., Room 360, St. Louis, MO 63104, (314) 977-8137, serranof@slu.edu, (2) School of Public Health, Saint Louis University, 3545 Lafayette Avenue, Suite 300, St. Louis, MO 63104

When community residents in a developing country are affected by exposure to toxic metals, how can they respond? What challenges do they face in educating themselves about environmental hazards? How can they promote prevention and policy change to protect their health and environment?

Extractive industries such as mining provide employment and other economic benefits. However, there is growing awareness about the harmful consequences of their operations in the health of community residents. This is much more problematic in developing countries where affected communities are often poor, have limited educational resources, and difficult access to decision makers in the corporate and political realm. This is the case of La Oroya, Peru, where a U.S.-based corporation operates a metal refining and smelting complex that is the main source of heavy metal contamination.

Presenters will discuss their involvement in a community-based environmental health education program in La Oroya implemented in 2005 by health care professionals, “promotores,” and community leaders to: (a) inform 250 La Oroya families of the levels of toxic metals such as lead, cadmium, and arsenic found in blood and urine samples; (b) discuss prevention practices; and (c) promote local capacity for community action to protect the public's health.

Also, presenters will share their experience in this education program from the perspectives of a participatory approach centered in the principle of “starting where the people are,” the process of building partnerships between United States researchers and grass roots and faith organizations in Peru, and the challenges of research translation across cultures.

Learning Objectives:

  • At the end of this session participants will be able to

    Keywords: Community-Based Health Promotion, Environmental Exposures

    Presenting author's disclosure statement:

    Not Answered

    Reproductive Health: Innovations, Policy, and Access

    The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA