Training & Outreach Day at the Museum of Science, Boston

The BUSRP Training & Outreach Day, held at the Museum of Science, Boston, on November 18th, was a day-long event that brought together New England SRP programs, community partners, and government agency representatives. The morning session involved BUSRP investigators, trainees, community engagement core partners, and government agency representatives. The day opened with an overview of the Superfund Research Program by BUSRP Director David Ozonoff, followed by an overview of the community engagement core. Sylvia Broude—Executive Director of Toxics Action Center and Staci Rubin— Staff Attorney at Alternatives for Community & Environment then spoke about the mission of their organizations as well as the work they conduct as community engagement core partners of BUSRP. After a short Q&A, David Sittenfeld—Forum Program Manager at the Museum of Science, Boston, spoke about his work with the BUSRP research translation core, and was followed by Carol Rowan West—Director of the Office of Research & Standards at MassDEP, Dalene LaPointe—Senior Health Risk Assessor at MADPH, and Emily Zimmerman—Community Involvement Coordinator at EPA Region 1. They provided a government and regulatory perspective of the work carried out at Superfund sites across the state and New England. A lively panel discussion followed, engaging investigators, trainees, community partners and government agency representatives.The morning concluded with talks by BUSRP investigators: Ann Aschengrau (Project 1), Mark Hahn (Project 2), and Stefano Monti (Bioinformatics Core) .

The afternoon session for New England SRPs opened with a talk by author Dan Fagin followed by a panel discussion which provided a well-received and yet another perspective of Superfund sites and the concerns residents living near a site face. The talk and panel was open to the public and attracted more than one hundred attendees. Dan Fagin, Director of the Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program at New York University spoke about his book,Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation, and the role of epidemiology in the investigation of child health and contamination from the Superfund site. His talk was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Richard Clapp—Professor Emeritus, BUSPH who was an epidemiologist studying the Toms River site. Panel members included: David Ozonoff – Director of BUSRP, Charles Gasior – Formal Chemical Engineer with Union Carbide, 1962-1972, and Rebecca Gasior Altman – Environmental Sociologist, Adjunct Professor, Community Health Program, Tufts University. The public portion of the BUSRP Training & Outreach Day was co-sponsored by:

• Alternatives for Community & Environment
• The Collaborative on Health and the Environment (listen to the CHE Partnership call featuring Dan Fagin here)
• Dartmouth Toxic Metals Superfund Research Program
• The Harvard School of Public Health Superfund Research Program 
• Lowell Center for Sustainable Production, University of Massachusetts Lowell
• Museum of Science, Boston
• PROTECT (Puerto Rico Testsite for Exploring Contamination Threats) Superfund Research Program, Northeastern University 
• Superfund Research Program at Brown University
• Toxics Action Center

The afternoon concluded with a New England SRP trainee poster and networking session. A total of seventeen New England SRP trainees from BU, Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard, and Northeastern participated. The various events of the day were well-received by all involved and provided a venue for trainees to connect with each other as well as community partners and government agencies. By providing a trainee contact information handout, at least three follow-up conversations between trainees and MassDEP have ensued. All trainees who completed an event evaluation expressed an interest in future New England SRP events.


“In terms of our progress, between 2003 and 2012, we have had approximately 44,000 sites in our system.  As of today, about 32,000 have achieved a permanent or temporary solution. The Bureau also works closely with EPA on assessment and cleanup of 29 Superfund Sites throughout the state and also works on 8 Federal Facilities (e.g., contaminated sites at closed and active military facilities).”~ Carol Rowan West—Director of the Office of Research & Standards at MassDEP. More information is available online.


“ATSDR is required by Superfund mandate to conduct a health assessment after a new site is proposed for listing as Superfund site…At MDPH, we evaluate available environmental data for potential health effects, and often include evaluations of readily available health data to address specific community concerns.” ~ Dalene LaPointe—Senior Health Risk Assessor & ATSDR Project Manager at MADPH


“I liked [most about the talk & panel] the different perspectives on the environmental issue. Also, I liked hearing a journalist interpret epidemiology.” ~ New England SRP trainee

December 10, 2013