The National Conversation on Public Health and Chemical Exposures aims to create an agenda for implementing stronger protections.

National Conversation Has Busy Fall Agenda

More than 50 public meetings are in the books for this project of CDC and ATSDR about chemical exposures and public health. An action agenda is scheduled for release in December.

Three meetings this month in Washington, D.C., including an Aug. 10 meeting of the Chemical Emergencies Work Group, (e-mail [email protected] for information) are moving a federal effort named the National Conversation on Public Health and Chemical Exposures toward a December 2010 release of an action agenda. CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, ATSDR, held 52 "community conversations" in May and June 2010 and have their Leadership Council of experts at work on the agenda now. Draft reports by Chemical Emergencies and the other five work groups will be released in September for a two-week public comment period.

CDC and ATSDR have created a toolkit and are sharing information about the project on a Facebook site. Three associations are partners in the effort: the American Public Health Association; the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials; and the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

The conversation has these eight goals:

  • Collect information about chemical use, people who are exposed, and the levels at which they are exposed.
  • Understand how chemicals affect people's health.
  • Use policies and practices that tell us about risks, how to reduce harmful exposures, and how to create and use safe chemicals.
  • Prevent, prepare for, and respond to chemical emergencies.
  • Protect all communities from harmful chemical exposures.
  • Create a well-informed public and health care provider network to help people understand chemical exposure risks.
  • Involve the public in government decision-making.
  • Encourage teamwork among partner groups and agencies.

CDC announced that Dr. Henry "Andy" Anderson of the Wisconsin Department of Health will co-chair the Leadership Council. He also is on the Monitoring work group. The Leadership Council will hold three meetings between October 2010 and January 2011.

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