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NC Department of Health and Human Services
NC Division of Public Health
N.C. Public Health Home

Occupational & Environmental Epidemiology

Health Assessment, Consultation & Education

As they are discovered, hazardous waste sites in the United States are registered with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Information System (CERCLIS), External link the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) computerized inventory of potential hazardous substance release sites. Hazardous waste site investigations are performed by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and often involve the EPA. They evaluate whether the site qualifies for Superfund, the federal government's program to clean up the nation's uncontrolled hazardous waste sites, and prioritizes it for federal cleanup. External link The highest priority sites are added to the National Priorities List (NPL).

The Health Assessment, Consultation and Education staff determines public health impacts associated with exposures to toxic substances released into the environment throughout North Carolina, usually at hazardous waste sites. The HACE program is located in the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch of the N.C. Division of Public Health.

A request or petition for an evaluation of a hazardous waste site comes from local, state and federal agencies or concerned citizens. HACE may either conduct a public health assessment of an identified hazardous site or provide a consultation in response to specific questions on a chemical or chemicals found at a site. In both instances, our goal is to determine if an exposure to a hazardous substance is occurring and what are the possible health impacts. Evaluations follow these steps:

  • All existing environmental and human health data are reviewed.
  • Community health concerns are collected.
  • A document (Public Health Assessment or Health Consultation) is prepared to summarize evaluation findings and make recommendations.
  • Staff coordinates activities with the parties involved at the site, while keeping community and health professionals informed of potential health risks through education and updates.
  • The completed evaluation is presented to the interested parties.
  • Depending on the recommendations, staff follow-up with the appropriate regulatory agencies to ensure that the public health issues have been addressed.

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