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Your Environment. Your Health.

2011

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Los Angeles Community Forum

Traffic Pollution and Your Health(255KB)

Progress Park Plaza, 15500 Downey Avenue, Paramount, CA
October 6, 2011

  • A large collection of shipping containers at the LA port
    Ports at Los Angeles and Long Beach
    (Photo courtesy of John Schelp)
  • A group of people, three men and two women, watch a presentation at the community forum

    (Photo courtesy of John Schelp)
  • A group of people listen to a tour at the LA ports
    Harbor Communities Tour
    (Photo courtesy of John Schelp)
  • Teenagers play soccer beneath a sign that reads
    Park near ports
    (Photo courtesy of John Schelp)

The nation's top environmental health official visited the Los Angeles/Long Beach harbor area to witness first-hand how communities are struggling with health issues related to pollution. Los Angeles has its share of health problems and we suspect many of them are environmentally related, said Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Several times a year, Birnbaum visits communities many in low-income, minority areas where federal research dollars are spent to study pollutants and human health... Emissions from trucks, ships and other diesel-powered sources envelop the region, and scientists from USC have found connections to an array of health effects... Birnbaum visited Hudson School near the ports of LA and Long Beach to witness first-hand how communities struggle with air quality health issues. (Source: Environmental Health News)

A large group of people view a powerpoint slide which reads "Traffic, Air Polution, and Health: Emerging Issues"
(Photo courtesy of John Schelp)


New Orleans Community Forum

Community partnerships to solve environmental health problems(228KB)
New Orleans, LA
February 23, 2011

  • Dr. Birnbaum speaks to the audience
    Birnbaum, second from right, joined panelists at the evening reception to hear concerns and questions voiced by members of the community impacted by Hurricane Katrina and the GOS.
    (Photo courtesy of John Schelp)
  • A woman speaks into a microphone
    The audience took Birnbaum and fellow panelists at their word as they passed around a microphone so anyone who wanted to give input had an opportunity to be heard.
    (Photo courtesy of John Schelp)
  • Panel members sitting at a table
    The panel at Dillard University included, right to left, Wright, Birnbaum, Sandler, and, only partially visible, Hughes.
    (Photo courtesy of Jim Remington)
  • An audience seated at tables listens to a speaker
    The audience at Dillard University included NIEHS staff and several grantees.
    (Photo courtesy of Jim Remington)
  • A severely flood-damaged house
    Today the city of New Orleans still has many reminders of the force of Hurricane Katrina and the frustrations of rebuilding the city.
    (Photo courtesy of John Schelp)
  • A new home in a neighborhood
    But there are also signs of the city's resilience, as people prepare their new and revitalized dwellings to face future threats from flooding.
    (Photo courtesy of John Schelp)

NIEHS/NTP Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., and other representatives from the Institute engaged the New Orleans community during a visit to the city Feb. 23-24. The visit involved several meetings focused on local environmental health concerns and the NIEHS programs that address them including the Institute's multi-faceted response to the Gulf oil spill (GOS).

The visit began with a luncheon dialogue hosted by the Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing followed by a tour of the lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans, hosted by NIEHS grantees at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. The NIEHS delegation also drove out to Terrebonne Parish where they listened to residents in the coastal town of Montegut.

Later, the NIEHS delegation attended an evening community forum Feb. 23, hosted by Mary Queen of Vietnam Community Development Corporation at Ba Mien Restaurant in New Orleans East. Birnbaum addressed more than 100 attendees as part of a panel of local, state and federal agency representatives.

Birnbaum described NIEHS programs launched in response to Hurricane Katrina and the GOS, Birnbaum noted that NIEHS grants in New Orleans totaled $4.6 million last year. She also praised collaboration among Gulf region scientists, community groups, and NIEHS, encouraging partners to offer NIEHS their input and share their grass-roots knowledge of their city and region.

"We want to hear what's going on," she explained. "See where we can build on the partnerships we have on the ground. That's what keeps us going. That's what helps drive our work in the community."

Birnbaum made a point of highlighting outstanding grantees, including Tulane University's Maureen Lichtveld, M.D. and Barry Dellinger, Ph.D., director of the Superfund Research Program at Louisiana State University (LSU).

As she did at each of the venues during the visit, Birnbaum emphasized interdisciplinary scientific research, interagency collaboration, and community engagement. "NIEHS hosted a series of community forums, stakeholder visits, webinars, and instructional meetings throughout the five-state Gulf region," she told her listeners, "in order to promote awareness, participation, and coordination for all of these programs among local residents, state and local health departments, regional universities and researchers, and federal agency partners."

During the evening forum, one attendee praised the NIEHS approach in the Gulf. "Thank you for the scientific focus of this study; it's critical," said Karen DeSalvo of the City of New Orleans Health Department.

The visit to New Orleans was part of a series of community forums Birnbaum began in 2009 when she began as director of NIEHS.