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The Florida Department of Health works to protect, promote, and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, and community efforts.

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Hazardous Waste Site Health Risk Assessment Program

Hazardous Waste Site Health Risk Assessment Program

DID YOU KNOW? December is Safe Toys and Gifts Month. Some imported toys, antique toys and toy jewelry may contain lead. Exposure to lead can cause serious harm to a child's health. This holiday season, keep the youth under your care safe by checking if a toy was tested and known to be made with lead paint. To find out if a toy has been recalled, please check with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Visit the Florida Lead Poisoning Prevention Program for more information on how you can prevent childhood lead exposure. For more information about creating safe environments for your child care location, visit Florida Choose Safe Places

Since 1987, the Florida Department of Health has had a cooperative agreement with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) “Partnership to Promote Local Efforts to Reduce Environmental Exposure (APPLETREE)” program. The Department’s team that works on evaluating public health risks from many of the state’s hazardous waste sites is the Health Risk Assessment Team in the Division of Disease Control and Health Protection, Bureau of Environmental Health.

The Florida Department of Health (FDOH) Hazardous Waste Site Health Risk Assessment program performs various tasks that align with guidelines set forth by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and section 381.006, Florida Statutes, which directs the Florida Department of Health to have “a toxicology and hazard assessment function which shall conduct toxicological and human health risk assessments of exposure to toxic agents.”

The primary goal of the program is to assess and respond to site-specific issues involving human exposure to hazardous substances in the environment. The program evaluates environmental data, often collected by other regulating agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). FDEP is the lead agency for environmental management and stewardship, protecting our air, water and land. FDOH’s role is to assess the public health impact from exposure to environmental contamination and ensure the citizens of Florida have the best information available to understand health risks and what can be done to reduce or eliminate risk.

The Health Risk Assessment Team consists of four scientists and one community involvement/health education specialist who evaluate the environment and health data collected from other agencies such as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and/or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The team assesses the public health risk from hazardous waste sites and produces, but is not limited to, health assessment reports, health consultation reports, and community update letters regarding those sites. Health assessments look at each chemical found at, or associated with, a hazardous waste site and its known health effects, as well as the different exposure routes at which somebody can be in contact with these chemicals. Some chemicals are toxic in small amounts, and other common chemicals can be toxic in large amounts. Data collected during a health assessment are compared to the national health guidelines.

In addition to conducting public health assessments, the team seeks input from affected communities and responds to their concerns and questions, advises the public on how to protect themselves from exposure to chemicals, and advises cleanup agencies on health issues.

Hazardous Waste Site Health Risk Assessment Program – Summarized Infographic

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