Environmental emergencies are incidents or events that threaten public safety, health, and welfare and include hurricanes, floods, wildfires, industrial plant explosions, chemical spills, acts of terrorism, and others. While these events range in size, location, cause, and effect, most have an environmental component. Emergency response is the organizing, coordinating, and directing of available resources in order to respond to the event and bring the emergency under control. The goal of this coordinated response is to protect public health by minimizing the impact of the event on the community and the environment.
An emergency response plan must provide the resources and information needed to evaluate the human and environmental health impacts of the event, assess and reduce human exposures to contaminants, and develop science-based strategies for remediation and rebuilding. One example is the immediate response of NIEHS and other government agencies to the devastation and hardship caused by Hurricane Katrina. This included the establishment of a field hospital in Mississippi to meet the immediate health needs of the hurricane victims, as well as the development of a Geographic Information System to plot the locations of chemical plants, refineries, Superfund clean-up sites, and other potential hot spots of contamination where flooding occurred.
What NIEHS is Doing on Emergency Response