Chattanooga Creek: Case Study of the Public Health Nursing Role in Environmental Health


  • Lynelle Phillips M.P.H., R.N.

    1. Lynelle Phillips is an Environmental Health Scientist in the Community Health Branch, Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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Abstract Public health nurses have two primary roles in protecting their communities from hazardous substances: community assessment and health education. Developing assessment skills in environmental health enables public health nurses to collaborate with other federal, state, and county agencies in identifying public health hazards and making health-based recommendations at hazardous waste sites needing remedial or removal interventions. Community health education empowers communities to minimize their exposure to hazardous wastes in their environment. Methods for community environmental health assessment and interventions are demonstrated in this article by activities conducted at the Chattanooga Creek site in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A thorough assessment and collaborative approach between government agencies, local health professionals, and community members resulted in a successful community health education program and this site's placement on the National Priorities List.