174700 Local public health agency response to inadvertent PCB contamination at multiple county park sites and public school playfields

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 10:30 AM

Paul A. Biedrzycki, MPH, MBA , Health Department, City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI
Mary Ellen Bruesch, MS, RS , City of Milwaukee Health Department, Disease Control and Prevention, City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI
Robert L. Thiboldeaux, PhD , Department of Health and Family Services, State of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
Raquel Filmanowicz, BS , Health Department, City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI
Many industries across the nation are thought to have discharged polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into municipal sewer systems until the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) ban on PCBs in manufacturing and sales in 1978. PCBs are probable human carcinogens that persist and bioaccumulate within the ecosystem. Human exposure through ingestion (PCBs in fish and other foods), inhalation and skin absorption is linked to various developmental, endocrine, immune and reproductive system disorders. In July, 2007, a local public health agency was notified of potential PCB contamination in numerous urban recreational environments. A fertilizer (a product of the local wastewater treatment plant influent) spread on thirty recreation areas was found to contain PCB concentrations that exceeded the Toxic Substances Control Act standard. Immediate public health concerns focused on exposure to children who could inadvertently add to long-term bioaccumulation of PCBs through skin absorption and soil ingestion through recreational activities. As each exposure to PCBs contributes to lifetime bioaccumulation with a corresponding increase in health risk, avoidance of unnecessary exposures is an important strategy in the protection of public health. The response to this incident by the local public health authority, in partnership with various State agencies, included: coordination of rapid environmental health risk assessment; prompt and transparent public communication through signage, media, electronic messaging, hotline, and website; and, oversight of USEPA directed cleanup activities. Early notification and involvement by local public health authorities is essential to early and successful intervention and protection of the community from unnecessary, unexpected and adverse environmental exposures.

Learning Objectives:
Describe potential roles for local public health agencies in response to environmental contamination of recreational settings. Recognize key stakeholders critical to prompt and effective response upon notification of environmental contamination in recreational settings. Identify strategies of media engagement that can be used to share information with a diverse public and to promote reasonable avoidance of adverse exposure. Discuss common public concerns that are likely to arise from a contaminant's introduced to recreational environments.

Keywords: Child Health, Environmental Health Hazards

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Division Manager responsible for leading the local public health response to the situation described in the abstract, and primary author of the abstract
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.