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Environmental and Public Health Interventions around NOA: A Community Case Study. Marci R. Culley, Ph.D. Georgia State University. GSU/CDC Seed Grant Awards in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Purpose – enhance research relationships How this study came about 2 years

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Environmental and Public Health Interventions around NOA: A Community Case Study


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    Presentation Transcript
    1. Environmental and Public Health Interventions around NOA: A Community Case Study Marci R. Culley, Ph.D. Georgia State University

    2. GSU/CDC Seed Grant Awards in the • Social and Behavioral Sciences • Purpose – enhance research relationships • How this study came about • 2 years • Research Team - Who are we? - Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry - Georgia State University Community Psychology - skill sets

    3. Why Collaborate on this Issue? • Previous ATSDR & GSU collaborations • Environmental health science and behavioral sciences • - some conceptual integration • - limited application • Federal environmental and public health agencies • - environmental hazards intervention, public involv. • - series of successes and failures • Enhance understanding of env. health intervention • Potential widespread impact of NOA

    4. Overview of Study

    5. The Setting for Research El Dorado Hills, California

    6. Why We Chose El Dorado Hills • Significant regulatory and public health attention • Complexity of dealing w/ NOA in residential setting • Unique challenges associated w/ NOA - regulatory “hot potato” - not your typical “dirt job” • Potential widespread nature of NOA - broader public health implications - recent attention from USGS, others

    7. Notable Environmental and Public Health Actions in El Dorado Hills • Oak Ridge High School - EPA’s cleanup under CERCLA / Superfund authority - ATSDR’s Public Health Consultation • EPA’s October 2004 activity-based sampling - Rolling Hills Middle School - Jackson Elementary, garden - Silva Valley Elementary - NY Creek Nature Trail - CSD park

    8. Media Continuum of Coverage…

    9. Series of articles 1998 – present Sacramento Bee Mountain Democrat

    10. Science News January 13, 2007 “U.S. EPA to revisit asbestos toxicity”

    11. Mother Jones: May/June 2007

    12. Specific Aims of the Study

    13. Use social and behavioral sciences methods to conduct a qualitative community case study: • - describe the environmental and public health interventions / “actions” used to mitigate NOA effects • - document how these were perceived by key stakeholder groups • - determine feasibility of framework / tool for assessing these

    14. 2) Provide guidance to communities potentially effected • Panel convened to provide feedback in 2 areas: • - case study findings and recommendations • - accuracy and utility of analytic framework / tool • Panel Participants’ experience • - Program evaluation / logic models • - environmental public health intervention • - NOA science • - community members

    15. 3) Disseminate results in various ways - academic journals - academic conferences - environmental and public health officials - media - El Dorado Hills community

    16. My focus tonight: Qualitative Case Study Findings

    17. Research Questions: • What is the nature of environmental and public health interventions / “actions” in this community? • How do key stakeholders experience these? • How might this case study inform future interventions?

    18. Qualitative Community Case Study Method • Laying groundwork for recruitment, interviews - talked with ATSDR staff - met with LAWG, CAG - recruitment e-mails to key stakeholder groups - compiled and read background info • Sought Interviews with 4 key stakeholder groups: - County level officials (N=11) - State agency officials (N=9) - Federal agency officials (N=8) - Community activists (N=10) • Targeted sample to meet objectives of case study

    19. Interview Participants • Federal and state govt. employees (11) - 7 federal (87.5%), EPA and ATSDR - 4 state (44.4%), CARB, OEHHA, DHS • Community activists (7) – 70% of those recruited • County employees - 0 • - some initial interest expressed • - e-mail from EDC Superintendent of Schools • - those who initially expressed interest then declined • DTSC employees – 0 - cited lack of time, scheduling conflicts - informally told otherwise, not confirmed

    20. Interview Method • In person by GSU researcher and grad assistant - August and September 2006 • Location chosen by participants • Average length about 1 hour • Informed Consent, Confidentiality • Audio recorded, transcribed verbatim for analysis • Open-ended question asked of all participants

    21. “Tell me what you think is important for me to know about how NOA had been addressed in El Dorado Hills…”

    22. Possible Interview Prompts • What “actions” / interventions occurred? • What worked well / was successful? • Challenges? • Lessons learned or recommendations? Open-ended technique allows for rich description of participants’ experiences vs. researcher’s preconceived notions of such

    23. Data Analysis – Interviews • Participants given opportunity to review transcripts - about ½ offered edits / clarifications - typically minor • About 400 single-spaced pages of transcripts - textually analyzed - to identify emerging themes and subthemes • Goal to characterize data – range of responses - NVIVO 7 qualitative data software

    24. Document Data Sources • Hundreds of pages of background info reviewed - specific to NOA “actions” in EDH / EDC - env & public health agencies at local, state, fed levels - scholarly publications - information produced by stakeholder groups - media - several key docs • 2005 Joint Senate Committee Hearing transcript • agency websites, fact sheets & reports • Chronology of Events / Timeline Development - triangulation of data sources

    25. Interview Findings • (Table pp. 20-21) • Actions • Challenges • Successes • Recommendations / Lessons Learned Most and least salient…

    26. Actions • (100%) • Communication • Asbestos ID / Sampling / Monitoring • Enhanced Regulation and Enforcement • Building Agency Collaboration • Remediation / Mitigation • Risk Assessment Work

    27. Communication Subtheme • Series of public meetings most frequent (100%) - May 2005 joint EPA / ATSDR meetings - GV, ORHS, BOS, EPA science seminar • E-mail, telephone btwn agencies and citizens (55%; 57%) • Inter-agency communications (73%; 14%) • General agency communication w/ public (55%; 29%) - public release of reports, press, policymakers - fact sheets, websites, info repository • Attendance of ACAG, LAWG meetings (18%; 14%)

    28. Asbestos ID / Monitoring / Sampling Subtheme • (91%; 100%) • “Historic” sampling / ID in mid 1980s (27%; 57%) - GV, Cothrin Ranch Road, DMG mapping • ORHS and surrounding areas - CARB (45%; 57%) - EPA (64%; 29%) - County (18%; 57%) - School district (18%; 43%) - CSD (9%; 43%) • EPA’s Oct 2004 activity-based sampling (73%; 43%) - most frequently noted by participants

    29. Enhanced Regulation and Enforcement Subtheme • (82%; 100%) • County’s BEACON dust program (45%; 100%) • State’s updated ATCM and related rules (64%; 29%) - paving materials, quarries, construction / dust • DTSC’s Interim Guidance for CA Schools (55%; 43%) - new construction rules - O & M Guidance - hazardous materials removal / oversight for lot • County regulation of “buffer zones” (0%; 43%)

    30. Building Agency Collaboration Subtheme • (91%; 43%) • EPA  state and county (45%; 0%) • ATSDR  state and county (55%; 0%) • EPA & ATSDR  EPA Tech Working Group (36%; 0) • Method 435 Group (36%; 0%) • County Task Force / Steering Committee (18%; 29%) • BOS collaborations with State DMG (0%; 29%) • OEHHA’s technical support work (18%; 0%) • EPA’s  USGS (18%; 0%)

    31. Remediation / Mitigation Subtheme • (64%; 80%) • EPA’s removal action at ORHS (55%; 43%) • County level remediation efforts (27%; 57%) - ORHS, CSD • Road paving in Garden Valley (36%; 29%) • DTSC hazardous materials removal (0%; 29%) - tremolite on Woedee Drive residential lot

    32. Risk Assessment Work Subtheme • (82%; 52%) • ATSDR’s Public Health Consult for ORHS (36%; 57%) • ATSDR’s 2nd Health Consult (45%; 0%) • EPA expert panel (9%; 29%) • ATSDR’s biomarkers expert panel (18%; 0%) • OEHHA’s risk assessment work (18%; 0%) • ATSDR’s “white paper” / NTP proposal (18%; 0%) - EPA’s response to RJ Lee report (27%; 14%)

    33. Challenges • (100%) • Regulatory Issues - The “hot potato” effect (100%; 86%) - Regulatory “loopholes” (91%; 100%) - The nature of bureaucracy (36%; 29%) • NOA Science - Risk assessment and communication (100%) - Sampling methods and analyses (91%; 71%) - Identification of “asbestos” (73%; 71%) - The nature of asbestos and remediation (45%; 86%)

    34. Challenges Cont… • Local and State Issues - Resistance to NOA issues (91%; 100%) - Community conflict (100%; 86%) - Resource issues (82%; 57%) - Distrust of government (64%; 0%) • Political Context (73%; 100%) - Political nature of local, state and federal agencies - Conflict of interest - Conflicting political values or ideology

    35. Regulatory Issues…

    36. The “Hot Potato” Effect “It was kind of like, ‘well who’s in charge here?’ I mean, that’s really…a huge problem and will continue to be a problem for issues like that everywhere.” Govt. Employee “You envision a bunch of people standing in a big circle and everybody pointing to the right claiming it’s this guy’s responsibility.” Citizen

    37. Regulatory Loopholes • Lack of regulation specific to NOA • Enforcement of O & M procedures • Dust rules • Land use planning

    38. “Part of the huge issue is that this kind of situation falls through the regulatory cracks.” Govt. Employee “What has happened is incomplete and…is focused on new construction, not addressing historic issues.” Citizen

    39. NOA Science • Risk assessment and communication - ill-fitting, underdeveloped risk models - related debates on toxicity of different fibers - disproportionate focus on chrysotile / occupational - lack of understanding  latency periods, disease mechanisms  dosage, duration, synergistic / cummulative - modeling risk from soil / traditional air sampling - challenges of risk communication given these

    40. “You can’t answer the specific questions of ‘well my kid plays soccer five times a week, is he gonna get sick?...the problem is we don’t know…we don’t know if one serious hit off that big cloud is gonna be enough to trigger disease. Govt. Employee “Sometimes the public may not realize that [it is] very frustrating for us to not be able to provide a clear answer to them…we’ve got answers based on a lot of inexact science.” Govt. Employee

    41. “They don’t have all the answers, and as far as risk is concerned, they’re never gonna have black and white answers, and I don’t think people understand that here…that’s not the nature of risk.” Citizen

    42. NOA Science Cont… • Sampling methods and analyses - “Ambient” / “Background” air monitoring - flow rates, testing limits - location of monitors - whether done under “realistic” situations - capturing personal activity-based exposures - Soil sampling - variability - capturing personal activity-based exposures

    43. NOA Science Cont… • ID of “asbestos” - cleavage fragment vs. fiber debate - ID beyond “serpentine” / “ultramafic” - fiber types (chrysotile v. amphiboles) - visual inspection v. electron microscopes • Nature of asbestos and remediation - once uncovered and spread around - not a “typical dirt job” - invisible nature of fibers

    44. “You can’t undergo some kind of normal remediation process where you’d clean it up and bury it or seal it. What’s our solution? So that’s a real challenge.” Govt. Employee “No matter how much you spray water on it…this is not a controllable situation…it dries…the wind blows and people run over it with bicycles or walk on it, or animal tracks or whatever, so…it’s never a controllable situation, which humans feel they can control everything.” Citizen

    45. Local and State Issues • Resistance to acknowledging or addressing NOA - particularly county officials - state agencies - residents, parents, school staff

    46. “A lot of what US EPA and ATSDR [did] was motivated by the perception that there had been a lack of willingness on the part of some state agencies and perhaps local agencies…to even acknowledge there was a problem.” Govt. Employee “People don’t want to know.” Citizen

    47. Local and State Issues Cont… • Community conflict - polarization evident via media, public meetings - “fallout” feared if petitioners named - difficulty working together - impacted federal agencies’ work

    48. “I heard it more than once that ‘oh this is just something these anti-development people are making up so that we retain our green space and we don’t put up any more houses up here…’ So, they literally thought that [it was] totally fabricated.” Govt. Employee “[The former School] Superintendent said this was a left wing conspiracy brought out by environmentalists…it polarized the population.” Citizen

    49. Local and State Issues Cont… • Resources • - financial constraints • - lack of staff and training / expertise • Distrust of government - especially federal govt. - across continuum