DOH News Release: Survey of civilians affected by Navy water system contamination to begin Jan. 4

Posted on Jan 3, 2022 in Latest Department News, Newsroom

HONOLULU – At the request of the Hawaiʻi State Department of Health (DOH), a public health team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) will conduct a survey beginning January 4, 2022 to investigate the potential health impacts on the civilian population affected by the contamination of the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Water Distribution System.

Under DOH’s direction, investigators from the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) and ATSDR will survey civilians living in homes serviced by the joint base water distribution system. Efforts will also be made to survey individuals who may have been exposed through their job or at school.

Civilian Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam water distribution system users who were affected by the contaminated water and would like to participate in the survey can contact the CDC/ATSDR team at 404-657-3256 or [email protected]. U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) affiliated personnel and their dependents are being tracked through a separate DOD registry.

“Contamination of the Navy’s water system has reached far beyond the military community,” said Hawaiʻi State Department of Health Toxicologist Dr. Diana Felton. “It is vital that we document and track how this incident affected all Hawaiʻi residents. This effort will help us better understand the impacts of this contamination event and determine what steps are needed to protect the health of civilians who were exposed. We thank the CDC/ATSDR for its partnership on this project.”

The 20-minute survey will include questions about ways people were exposed to the contaminated water, health symptoms they experienced, and medical care they sought. It also will cover impacts on the participant’s children and pets, health status prior to the water contamination, and ways to contact the participant in the future. Initially, surveys will be conducted in person and by phone. A web-based survey option is being developed. Participation is voluntary and participant identities will be kept confidential.

The information gathered from the health assessment will further the understanding of how the contamination impacted the health of Hawaiʻi residents and inform decision making on potential future health monitoring. Results will be summarized in a report that will be made publicly available.

The CDC/ATSDR and DOH survey team will visit various housing areas on the Navy water system. Surveyors will be fully vaccinated and wearing masks. They also will be wearing CDC vests and CDC/ATSDR employees carry U.S. Department of Health and Human Services identification.

ATSDR’s Assessment of Chemical Exposure (ACE) program helps state and local health departments conduct rapid epidemiological assessments when toxic substance spills or chemical emergencies happen. For additional information about ACE, visit Incident Investigations | National Toxic Substance Incidents Program | ATSDR (cdc.gov)

DOH updates on the Navy water system incident are posted at health.hawaii.gov/navywater.

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Media Contact:

Katie Arita-Chang

Acting Communications Director

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (808) 286-4806