NEHA Post-Hurricane Health & Safety Work Partnership
Improving Public Health, Child Care, and Safety in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) has been selected to work on a series of post-hurricane projects in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), Puerto Rico and parts of the U.S. mainland to improve public health, child care and building safety. NEHA is conducting the projects in a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).
The two-year cooperative agreement directs NEHA to conduct its work in jurisdictions impacted by the 2017 hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria—notably the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The agreement outlines a series of objectives in a variety of areas:
- Develop and maintain a trained, skilled environmental health workforce, essential for hurricane recovery efforts and ensuring preparedness for future emergencies when contagious disease, vector control, and threats to drinking water and food supplies pose increased public risks after a storm.
- Develop local strategies in the USVI and Puerto Rico to protect children from both harmful post-disaster exposures and child-care displacement, using concepts built on ATSDR’s “Choose Safe Places for Early Care and Education” principles.
- Establish a baseline for monitoring carbon monoxide-related illness and death and increase awareness of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in the USVI.
- Research the feasibility of a tech-based field tool, with feedback and collaboration from local authorities, to collect and assess environmental hazard data supportive of response and recovery activity. Examples include mapping exposed sites (daycare centers, emergency shelters and food establishments), and collecting real-time post-storm health threats, such as chemical leaks, downed power lines or damaged drinking-water pumps.
This project was supported through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.