Previous Community Forums
Los Angeles Community Forum
Progress Park Plaza, 15500 Downey Avenue, Paramount, CA
October 6, 2011
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)
New Orleans Community Forum
Community partnerships to solve environmental health problems (228KB)
New Orleans, LA
February 23, 2011
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.