Risk communication is a critical step in addressing contaminants of emerging concern. There are differences in the messaging and methods by which environmental agencies and health departments share information with various audiences.
In June 2018, the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), under a Memorandum of Agreement with U.S. EPA, published case studies and hosted webinars to highlight state-level risk communication of waterborne contaminants, including PFAS and harmful algal blooms (HABs). ECOS and ASTHO interviewed environmental and health agency staff from 13 states regarding their risk communication strategies and lessons learned for these two contaminants. Compiled information includes background on site contamination, development of guidance values and health advisories, rollout of advisories and relevant resources, key messages for the public, and challenges and gaps. The case studies’ key findings offer considerations to other states and stakeholders seeking to implement or improve their risk communication practices.
The case studies can be found here. Below are additional resources on HABs from state and federal partners. The PFAS Risk Communication Hub, including additional state resources and fact sheets, can be found here.
Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Kansas Department of Health and Environment:
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality:
National Institute of Health:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Ecological Society of America:
New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services:
- Recreational Exposure to Cyanobacteria
- Current Beach Advisory Maps
- Sample Press Release: State Issues Cyanobacteria Warning for Turtle Pond
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency:
- Incident Action Checklist
- Provides information on preparedness and response actions water utilities can take during a harmful algal bloom incident.
- Cyanotoxin Risk Communication Toolbox for Drinking Water
- Recreational Water Communication Toolbox for Cyanobacterial Blooms
U.S. Geological Survey and Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Environmental Studies:
Utah Department of Environmental Quality:
- HABs Homepage
- Updates on the conditions for each waterbody are listed, including toxin levels, cyanobacteria cell-count concentrations, data sheets, and location and dates for sampling.
- HABs Risk Communication Strategies PowerPoint
- HABs Frequently Asked Questions
- Utah HABs Guidance Summary
- Single Overriding Communications Objective (SOCO) Work Sheet
- Data buoys (real-time info)
- Response Plans
- “Protect Yourself” Health Advisory
- Health Effects
Water Research Foundation:
- Presentation: Development of a Risk Communication Tool Kit for Cyanotoxins
Have resources you would like to share?
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