Government Public Health and Private Environmental Laboratory Partnerships
Presented by D. Friedman
Contact Information: [email protected]; 717-413-6937
Here in the United States we often find ourselves facing environmental crises for which adequate governmental resources are insufficient to deal with the problems. Such crises include catastrophic weather events, industrial disasters resulting in contamination of major river systems and other water bodies, and terrorist incidents. How to mobilize an effective response in such situations has been and continues to be important to government and the private sector. Today we will focus on one aspect of the problem – environmental testing. In an emergency, testing the air, water, or soil may be critical to identifying and quantifying the danger to human and environmental health and to addressing the immediate danger and )then remediating the problem.
The United States is fortunate in that it has an extensive network of public and private environmental testing laboratories who have the capability to respond to emergencies. Over the past decade, due to industry consolidations and changes, these resources have dwindled while the need for monitoring in response to disasters has not. The issue is how to coordinate and bring the various resources to bear when a problem presents itself. This presentation will review what has been done to date to establish a framework for such a mobilization (i.e., the EPA’s Environmental Laboratory Response Network (ELRN) and the Water Laboratory Alliance); examples of how the network has been employed in emergencies, lessons learned from instances where the Network was employed; and recommendations for how to improve its capabilities and utilization.