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PUBLIC OUTREACH

Risk Communications Tool Kit


    Purpose

    The STAPPA and ALAPCO Public Education and Communications Committee, in collaboration with the STAPPA and ALAPCO Air Toxics Committee, developed this on-line "Toolkit" to provide state and local air agencies with comprehensive and easy-to-use documents and information on communicating with constituents about toxic air pollution and the public-health risks associated with exposure to toxic air pollutants. The Committees established a "Toolkit" Work Group that identified five basic categories of information that would be useful to state and local air agencies in communicating with constituents about toxic air pollution; these categories are represented by the Chapters listed in the Table of Contents below. The documents and information included in each Chapter were selected by the Work Group as the best information and example documents submitted by state and local air agencies, as well as the best toxic air pollution and related risk-communication information available on other web sites.


    Using the Toolkit

    The documents and information contained in each Chapter of the Toolkit are available as either: 1) electronic files that may be viewed on, or downloaded from, this site, or 2) links to specific documents or information located on other public web sites (e.g., EPA's air toxics web site). Electronic files on this site are available in both .PDF and MS-Word formats for your convenience. The .PDF files allow users to see and print the document as originally formatted, but require Adobe Acrobat Reader software, which is freely available on the STAPPA/ALAPCO Air Web homepage (see Tools Button). The MS-Word files available on this site enable users to download and manipulate (e.g., cut and paste) the same information to suit individual users' communications needs. Documents or information listed on this site that are available through links to other web sites are clearly identified as "Links" in the Table of Contents.

    The Table of Contents also provides annotated descriptions of each document or information source available in the Chapters of the Toolkit. Using the Table of Contents enables users to quickly locate documents (or links) of interest without the need to scroll back and forth through the list of documents.


    Table of Contents

    The following annotated Table of Contents is intended to provide users with a quick summary of each document and link contained in each Chapter of the Toolkit. You are encouraged to navigate this site by clicking on the appropriate document or link listed in the Table of Contents and using your web browser buttons (i.e., "Back" and "Forward") to quickly return to the Table of Contents to identify other information of interest.


    CHAPTER 1 - Communicating the Risks Associated with Toxic Air Pollution -- Operating Procedures

    The following information may be useful to state and local air agencies in designing or improving agency procedures for responding to constituent contacts related to toxic air pollutants and exposure risks.

    • Media Contact Guide -- This brochure/document provides a concise and useful set of guidance principles that air agency staff may use when addressing calls from news media regarding toxic air pollution.

    • Operating Procedures for News Media Contacts - Example -- This document is taken from a state air agency and reflects one agency's "News Media Policy" for all agency staff (including operating procedures to use when handling news media contacts).

    • Model Operating Procedures for News Media Contacts - Template -- This template may be useful to air agencies wishing to establish or improve specific internal operating procedures for staff contacts with news media related to toxic air pollution. The document is easily individualized to reflect each agency's specific internal communications policies and principles (e.g., "All news media calls should be referred to the department's __________").

    • A Primer on Health Risk Communication Principles and Practices -- This link (to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry web site) provides invaluable information about communicating with various constituent groups (e.g., news media, public) about the risks involved in exposure to toxic air pollution. This resource includes information on Guiding Principles for Health Risk Communication, Presenting Information at Public Meetings and Working With the Media.

    • Improving Dialogue with Communities: A Short Guide for Government Risk Communication -- This document provides basic principles for governmental risk communication, including the Purpose of Risk Communication, How Communities See Risk (including factors in community outrage), Earning and Losing Trust and Credibility, Deciding When to Release Information and Explaining Risk.


    CHAPTER 2 - Toxic Air Pollution Communication Information: Facts and Frequently Asked Questions

    The following general information and fact sheets on toxic air pollutants may be used by state and local air agency staff to answer
    questions posed by constituents.

    • The Seven Cardinal Rules of Risk Communication -- This document provides a concise list of seven rules to consider when communicating with constituents regarding health risks associated with exposure to toxic air pollution.

      Additional Sources of Facts and FAQs on Air Toxics and Health Risks:

      • EPA Air Toxics Basic Facts -- This link to EPA's Unified Air Toxics web site provides good basic information about air toxics, including what they are, where they come from, what is being done about them, as well as helpful links to similar information.

      • EPA's Toxic Air Pollutants Website -- This link provides general information on air toxics, health and ecological effects information, air toxics data and maps and other technical information on air toxics.

      • U.S. EPA Risk Assessment Outline -- This document summarizes the process used to assess health risks posed by exposure to hazardous chemicals, including the steps involved in: 1) hazard identification, 2) exposure assessment, 3) toxicity assessment and 4) risk characterization.

      • Fact Sheets for Air Toxic Pollutants -- This document provides concise facts for the 32 air toxics and diesel particulate matter covered under EPA's National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) program. Each fact sheet describes: 1) the characteristics of each air toxic, 2) exposure mechanisms and 3) health risks associated with exposure to each air toxic.
      Additional Fact Sheets for Air Toxics:

      • New Jersey Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets -- This link to New Jersey's Department of Health web site provides a comprehensive list of fact sheets for most air toxics, including information on how to determine if you are being exposed, ways of reducing exposure and frequently asked questions (and answers).

      • EPA Toxic Chemical Fact Sheets -- This link to EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics web site provides chemical-specific information similar to previous information and links, but also provides useful information and numbers for contacting the appropriate federal agency or hotline with questions.

      • CARB Toxic Air Contaminant Fact Sheets -- This link to the California Air Resources Board's web site provides detailed fact sheets for most air toxics, as well as enables users to find particular air toxics using Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Numbers or the Department of Transportation (DOT) Chemical Numbers.

      • ATSDR ToxFAQs-- This link to the web site of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides a series of summaries about hazardous substances taken from toxicological profiles and public health statements, including frequently asked questions.

      • National Safety Council Chemical "Backgrounders" -- This link to the "CrossRoads" web site of the National Safety Council provides a comprehensive summary of many toxic chemicals, called chemical "backgrounders."


    CHAPTER 3 - Glossary of Air Toxic Terms and Definitions

    The following glossaries of terms and definitions involved in air toxic pollution and related health impacts may be useful to state and local air agency staff in understanding and responding to the issues and questions posed by constituents.

    • Glossary of Health Effects for Hazardous Air Pollutants -- This document (taken from EPA) provides a comprehensive glossary of health, exposure and risk assessment terms and definitions of acronyms related to toxic air pollutants.

      Additional Glossary Resources for Air Toxics:


    CHAPTER 4 - Reference Materials on Air Toxic Pollution and Health Risks

    The following documents and links provide access to more detailed reference materials on air toxics and related health risks that may be useful to state and local air agency staff.

    • Risk Communication Reference Materials -- This document lists nearly 20 reference materials that state and local air agencies may find useful in communicating about air toxic health risks.

      Risk Communication Reference Links - The following are links to other web sites that provide lists of reference materials and information related to air toxics and risk communication.


    CHAPTER 5 - Visual/Descriptive Aids

    The following documents and links provide users with examples of visual and descriptive aids that state and local air agencies may find useful in communicating with constituents regarding air toxics and related health risks.

    • Comparative Health Risk Tables - This document contains several tables showing estimated average yearly and lifetime risks of death for U.S. residents from various incidents (e.g., auto accidents, firearms), lethal doses of common substances, lifetime risk of cancer from various activities or lifestyles and common risks that are above EPA's acceptable risk levels for the general population.

    • Table Showing Risk Increases By Activity - This table shows risks (e.g., smoking, living in polluted areas) estimated to increase the annual chance of death by 1 in one million.

    • Air Pollution and Health Risk - This link is to EPA's publication, which includes visual and textual aids displaying which risks are of greatest concern and putting risks in perspective (i.e., comparing risks).


    CHAPTER 6 - General Air Quality Messages

    The following documents and links provide users with examples of general air quality messages that state and local air agencies may wish to consider using when communicating with constituents regarding air toxics and related health risks.

    • What You Can Do to Protect Your Environment - This document provides a useful list of general ways that everyone can reduce air pollution, which state and local air agencies may wish to include in communications to constituents regarding hazardous air pollutants.

    • 50 Things You Can Do for Clean Air - This link is to the California Air Resources Board web site that provides 50 ways that everyone can reduce air pollution.


    Make a Suggestion

    STAPPA and ALAPCO are very interested in hearing any comments or suggestions you may have regarding the content or presentation of information in this "tool kit." Please contact the Secretariat at (202) 624-7864 or 4clnair@sso.org, if you have any questions.


     


State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators /
Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials
444 North Capitol Street, N.W.
Suite 307
Washington, D.C. 20001

(202) 624-7864     (202) 624-7863 FAX     4clnair@sso.org