The NIEHS sponsors Town Meetings in cities throughout the United States on the general theme of environmental impacts on human health. The purpose of the town meetings is to bring together members of the public who are interested in public health and the environment with NIEHS and other federal, state, and local government health officials; environmental health professionals; and disease and environmental advocacy groups. The meetings provide a platform for an open dialogue to establish better coordination among the public and health professionals working on community exposures, industrial exposures, and other environmental issues. These meetings also provide an opportunity to promote local and state media coverage of environmental health issues to broaden public understanding. Many of these town meetings are organized in collaboration with NIEHS Environmental Health Sciences Centers and Superfund Centers at universities around the country who carry out cutting edge research to better understand the most pressing and key environmental problems of the nation, and how best to solve them.
Last Town Meeting
Cincinnati Town Meeting
The September 15 town hall meeting, "Your Home, Your Health, Your Voice," was about empowerment for individuals dealing with environmental exposures, and it was held appropriately in a monument to empowerment during extreme adversity, the Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. The meeting was jointly sponsored by NIEHS and the University of Cincinnati (UC) Center for Environmental Genetics (CEG). The event featured talks by experts at UC to help residents understand better the exposures they face each day and to offer practical ideas about how individuals can improve aspects of their health related to those exposures.
Welcoming attendees to the day-long event were CEG Director Shuk-mei Ho, Ph.D., NIEHS Acting Director Sam Wilson, M.D., and Ohio State Rep. Steven Driehaus. In his comments, Wilson talked about the value of community engagement by scientists.
"Town hall meetings are important to share views and understand where real needs are on the academic side and from community groups," Wilson said. "The potential benefit is enormous."
The speakers from CEG, who are some of the leading researchers in the environmental health sciences, focused on hazards in the home, including exposures to lead, plastics, second-hand smoke, mold and traffic exhaust. Attendees learned how to recognize potentially harmful exposures, prevent them when possible and find help to correct them if necessary.
"This was a unique opportunity for the Greater Cincinnati community and others throughout the region because this will be the only NIEHS town hall meeting of this kind in 2008," said Elizabeth Kopras, CEG junior research associate and meeting coordinator. "Attendees had the opportunity to have direct input on the decision-making process for how NIEHS allocates its funding opportunities for the upcoming fiscal year — as well leave the meeting better equipped to protect their health and the health of their loved ones."
Accompanying Wilson to the meeting were NIEHS Director of Science Policy and Planning Joyce Martin, J.D., and John Schelp, special assistant to the director. Schelp also helps coordinate the NIEHS Public Interest Partners group, a national forum for community advocacy.
Previous Town Meetings