225364 Environmental Monitoring for Public Health and Policy Change in Central Peru: Bringing Life Back to the Mantaro Watershed

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 1:42 PM - 2:00 PM

Fernando Serrano, Assistant Professor , Environmental and Occupational Health, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO
How do communities respond to a surrounding environment contaminated by toxic metals from mining and smelting activities? What scientific evidence is needed to develop programs and policies to protect the environment and public health? Mining and smelting activities provide employment and other economic benefits. However, there is growing awareness about the harmful impact of their operations in the public's health and the quality of the environment. Further, when confronted with the consequences of mining and smelting of metals, decision makers and affected communities in developing countries often do not have the evidence needed to make better environmental health decisions. This is the case of La Oroya and the Mantaro watershed in central Peru. The presenter will explain how an environmental assessment provided the evidence needed by community organizations concerned with the effects of environmental contamination. This will include a description of the design, methods, and results of measurements of lead, cadmium, arsenic, and sulfur dioxide in air, water, and soil in the Mantaro watershed, an area with one of the most polluted towns in the world. The presenter will also discuss: (a) the role of “The Mantaro Lives Again” partnership between local community organizations and a U.S.-based university in using the environmental evidence obtained to educate the public and pursue policies to remediate environmental damage and prevent environmental health problems; and (b) the importance of environmental justice for “The Mantaro Lives Again” partnership in providing a moral basis to the promotion of environmental health initiatives in Peru.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
At the end of the presentation, attendees will be able to: (1) Discuss how communities can generate and use evidence from environmental assessments to protect their environment and public health. (2) Evaluate the role of international partnerships for environmental monitoring to promote community education and policy change. (3) Discuss the importance of environmental justice in decisions to protect the environment and prevent disease in developing countries.

Keywords: Environmental Health Hazards, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator in the environmental assessment summarized in 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.