Community members and personnel from The University of Texas-Pan American learned about current health issues at the Border Environmental Health Conference June 14-15.
The conference was designed to introduce public health workers to basic environmental hazards, assessment techniques and resources for assistance with environmental problems. Various topics were discussed, including pesticide hazards, contaminated drinking water and environmental exposures at home and in the workplace.
"Ultimately, the goal is to create a safer environment in the Rio Grande Valley," said Richard Costello, UTPA Department of Environmental Health and Safety director. "Training, education and above all, awareness, is key in that effort."
Conference speakers included Costello and Dr. Paul Villas, executive director of the UT System Texas-Mexico Border Health Coordination office.
Dr. Arch Carson from The University of Texas at Houston School of Public Health addressed childhood developmental problems from toxic exposures and environmental chemical concerns. He also introduced solutions to the health problems plaguing the border.
"Because of new technology, we are developing and producing new chemicals every year, and many of these have useful purposes for industry," Carson said. "But, we know absolutely nothing about their toxic hazards. It isn't until 20 or 30 years later that we find out they are harmful."
Costello said the conference helps the University become a leader in promoting health and safety awareness.
"It provides an opportunity for UTPA faculty to network and discuss research projects concerning environmental health issues in our community," Costello said.