142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

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Community-Based Response to Petrochem Emergencies LABB

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Wednesday, November 19, 2014: 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Louisiana is a unique region that faces frequent environmental health emergencies because of its vulnerability to severe weather but also because it is home to over 150 petrochemical plants on shore, 60,000 active and abandoned oil wells off shore and over 36,000 miles of pipelines carving through delicate marsh. Petrochemical accidents occur at a rate of 10 per week in Louisiana, according to the National Response Center. The frequency of accidents constitutes a chronic chemical emergency for communities surrounded by this infrastructure, often low income communities of color. Chemical emergency response is a growing field in public health and more skill building is needed in a region fraught with frequent and cascading disasters, like Murphy Oil Refinery’s one million gallon oil spill into surrounding neighborhoods during Hurricane Katrina. Community members on the other side of the fence are frequently exposed to thousands of dangerous chemicals like benzene but rarely receive any notification or assistance. The Community Based Response to Petrochemical Emergencies Session will focus on how community gathered evidence on chemical exposure aids the response to and ultimately the prevention of accidents in Louisiana. The panel will focus on the lived community experience using hands on technologies as well as the experience of response officials and media in using that documentation to hold industry accountable. LABB empowers community members to become citizen scientists through the following tools: • We train community groups to take air samples using “the bucket,” a user-friendly EPA approved air sampling device that captures a range of Volatile Organic Compounds. • We collect the petrochemical industry’s self reported data on their accidents to educate neighboring communities on the public health risks • The iWitness Pollution Map, an innovative crowd sourcing technology, allows anyone with a cell phone to report the community health impacts of chemical emergencies in real time. Our panel is moderated by Anna Hrybyk, LABB’s Program Manager who has worked around the world on community based disaster preparedness programs. She managed a South Indian community based response to the 2004 Asian Tsunami. She holds a Masters Degree in Public Health from Tulane University.
Session Objectives: Use civic technologies to document exposure to toxic pollutants, track environmental health indicators for chemical exposures and to communicate health risks. Define and describe effective tools to coordinate response to environmental health emergencies like petrochemical accidents and oil spills. Design a collaborative follow up activity to improve early warning, coordination, rapid response, treatment of chemical exposures, and chemical emergency prevention at the local level.
Megan Latshaw, PhD MHS

See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement and author's information.

Organized by: Environment

CE Credits: Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH)

See more of: Environment