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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9(8), 2894-2909; doi:10.3390/ijerph9082894
Article

Epidemiologic Methods Lessons Learned from Environmental Public Health Disasters: Chernobyl, the World Trade Center, Bhopal, and Graniteville, South Carolina

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1 Department of Global Environmental Health Sciences, Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, ENHS SL-29, 1440 Canal St., Suite 2100, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA 2 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA 3 Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA 4 Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA 5 Bureau of Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology, State University of New York-Albany, Albany, NY 84870, USA 6 Radioecological Center of the National Academy of Sciences, Kiev 04050, Ukraine 7 Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA 8 South Carolina College of Pharmacy, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA and Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston SC 29403, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 June 2012 / Revised: 18 July 2012 / Accepted: 8 August 2012 / Published: 16 August 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Preparedness and Emergency Response)
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Abstract

Background: Environmental public health disasters involving hazardous contaminants may have devastating effects. While much is known about their immediate devastation, far less is known about long-term impacts of these disasters. Extensive latent and chronic long-term public health effects may occur. Careful evaluation of contaminant exposures and long-term health outcomes within the constraints imposed by limited financial resources is essential. Methods: Here, we review epidemiologic methods lessons learned from conducting long-term evaluations of four environmental public health disasters involving hazardous contaminants at Chernobyl, the World Trade Center, Bhopal, and Graniteville (South Carolina, USA). Findings: We found several lessons learned which have direct implications for the on-going disaster recovery work following the Fukushima radiation disaster or for future disasters. Interpretation: These lessons should prove useful in understanding and mitigating latent health effects that may result from the nuclear reactor accident in Japan or future environmental public health disasters.
Keywords: environmental health; epidemiology; accidents and injuries; chemical safety; occupational health environmental health; epidemiology; accidents and injuries; chemical safety; occupational health
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Svendsen, E.R.; Runkle, J.R.; Dhara, V.R.; Lin, S.; Naboka, M.; Mousseau, T.A.; Bennett, C.L. Epidemiologic Methods Lessons Learned from Environmental Public Health Disasters: Chernobyl, the World Trade Center, Bhopal, and Graniteville, South Carolina. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2012, 9, 2894-2909.

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