Training Prepares Environmental Health Scientists for Disaster Research

TEEX DiscussionThe Texas A&M Superfund Research Center hosted more than 30 environmental health scientists from Texas A&M University and 10 other academic centers from around the country to learn practical and applied skills that enable them to understand the complex nature of disaster response and conduct research in challenging situations as part of a Disaster Research Training Workshop.

The two-day activity, hosted Dec. 17-18 at the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service’s (TEEX) Emergency Operations Training Center, also brought together experts from across the state to lead presentations and activities on understanding the “Incident Command System & Emergency Operations,” “Effectively Communicating Health and Safety Information Through Mass Media,” “Safety Considerations for Conducting Field Research,” “Human Studies During and After Disasters & Environmental Emergencies,” and “Field Sampling for Determining Exposures After Disasters & Environmental Emergencies.”

Afterward, participants were able to practice what they learned by rotating through a series of tabletop and field exercises based on a scenario involving a hurricane that impacts the Texas coastline. These exercises included interacting with first responders and government agencies, collecting field samples, and risk communication and human studies. More than a dozen experts from federal and state agencies, companies, and universities worked with the trainees in small groups to develop practical skills in disaster research.

Disaster Training CollectionPresenters and breakout session leaders represented the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM) and School of Public Health; the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Texas General Land Office, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, the University of Texas Medical Branch, Shell, and Chevron.

The training workshop is one key element in fulfilling both training and research translation mandates of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Superfund Research Program.

The Texas A&M Superfund Research Center, housed in the CVM, has responded to environmental emergencies created by the Hurricanes Harvey (2017) and Florence (2018), both of which informed the content of the training workshop and exercises.

The center, established in 2017, works to design, develop and implement comprehensive tools and models for addressing exposure to mixtures during environmental emergency-related contamination events.

For more information on the Superfund Research Center, visit https://superfund.tamu.edu.