Arizona Environmental Health Information Needs Assessment

The Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center is beginning a project to develop a tool to allow community leaders, average citizens, environmental activists, public health officials, and other stakeholders to access a wealth of local environmental health information. The project began in May of 2010 and we plan to have it available within the next few months. If you are interested in the project please contact Marti Lindsey, by email at lindsey@pharmacy.arizona.edu.

  • The goal of this information needs assessment is to aggregate several sources of information about toxic releases, human health, toxicology, air quality, water quality, and occupational health into one procedure, which will provide a larger picture of what’s going on in any given community.
  • The reason the tool is being developed is to help the public understand the problems of environmental public health in more depth and detail.
  • This tool cannot and should not be used as the final word on environmental health issues, rather it might be used as a starting point for taking action if it is deemed necessary.

The public perception of environmental health issues generally concerns issues that affect them directly or that can be seen on the news. This tool will go beyond short news stories and help people address issues that are important in their communities.

  • Not all releases of hazardous substance have an effect on human health. However, if a school is located near a release of lead and the community members notice a high incidence rate of developmental defects, this may require a more thorough investigation.
  • Media coverage about the gulf oil spill, food safety, global warming, water contamination, and poor air quality informs the public but it does not provide the depth of information needed to truly understand the environmental issues in one’s community and make decisions about actions to take to clean up the environment.
  • Another example, people in Chicago do not worry about the issue of water rights since they are along the shores of the largest fresh water lake in the United States, while the people of Arizona take the issue of water rights very seriously because it is a scarce commodity