Air Toxic Risk Communication

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Air Toxic Risk Communication
Wednesday, October 25, 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm ET

This webinar will be a panel discussion featuring presentations by experts from EPA, state, and local agencies on basics of risk communication; national risk communication strategy; challenges of risk communications with the public and industry; and state and local perspectives on risk communication. Examples of effective risk communication on reduction of air toxics risks will be demonstrated. Attendees will have an opportunity to discuss concerns and issues directly with panelists.


A Strategic Risk Communication Approach – Madeline Beal & Alison Davis
Between July 2022 and August 2023, EPA undertook an extensive national effort to inform communities about EtO risk from commercial sterilizers. This effort started with a strategic risk communication approach modeled on EPA’s SALT Framework and an effort to understand community needs and meet those needs. The presenters will discuss the roles of empathy, trust, context, and partnerships in improving engagement when it comes to issues like air toxics where the risk perception and complexity of the science can make it hard for our audiences to hear, understand, accept, and act on our messaging.

Clearing the Air: Plain Language in Health Communication – Kristy Richardson
This talk will focus on the importance of using plain language. According to the CDC, nearly nine out of 10 adults struggle to understand and use personal and public health information when it’s filled with unfamiliar or complex terms. Avoiding professional jargon helps communicate the science behind our work. When people can understand our messages, they can take action to protect themselves and their families. This session will provide practical tools and tips. We will discuss real examples of plain language approaches to communicating health messages.

Setting the Stage: The Challenges of Hosting a Public Meeting – Ian MacMillan
There are many styles of public meetings. Choosing the wrong setup can create a hostile dynamic that can be difficult to overcome. This can be especially true in the context of a meeting to address public health concerns. As a local regulatory agency, we need to consider how best to engage the public both for the topic of the meeting, and in context with other subjects affecting the same community. This presentation will cover different types of meeting formats, and what our experience has shown are some advantages and disadvantages to each format.

Questions and Discussions
     $99 A&WMA Member; $149 Nonmember
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Madeline Beal, Senior Risk Communication Advisor, EPA’s Office of the Administrator, Office of Public Affairs
Madeline Beal joined EPA’s Office of the Administrator, Office of Public Affairs as Senior Risk Communication Advisor in 2019. She coordinates and informs risk communication efforts across the agency with a focus on creating needed infrastructure and tools to support the diversity of issues EPA communicates about. Madeline earned a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins where she focused on environmental health and risk communication and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Tufts University.

Alison Davis, Senior Advisor, Public Affairs, EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning & Standards
Alison started her career in the news, working as a reporter at newspapers in Florida and North Carolina, before moving to public information work for the State of North Carolina. She was a fire information officer for the North Carolina Forest Service and a public information officer for the state’s Coastal Management program, and also served as a member of the State Emergency Response Team. At OAQPS, Alison is part of the Policy Analysis & Communications Staff, which leads responses to inquiries from the Congress and the news media and coordinates outreach and communications on the office’s regulatory work. She’s a Tar Heel through and through -- a North Carolina native and a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Ian MacMillan, Assistant Deputy Executive Officer, South Coast Air Quality Management District
Ian MacMillan is an Assistant Deputy Executive Officer, South Coast Air Quality Management District. He oversees several programs including the emissions reporting and toxic ‘hot spots’ programs, rule development and implementation of indirect source rules, transportation programs, and government fleet rules, and assists with development of State Implementation Plans. Ian has over 15 years of experience in air quality policymaking in southern California, focused primarily on goods movement and environmental justice concerns.

Dr. Kristy Richardson, Toxicologist, Colorado State
Dr. Kristy Richardson is the Colorado state toxicologist providing risk assessment expertise to the state's environmental health and protection divisions. She works with the Air Pollution Control Division to respond to air toxics concerns and to develop an air toxics program, complete with health-based standards for certain air toxics. Throughout her career, Kristy has championed communicating risk through accessible and actionable information. She holds a doctorate in environmental toxicology from the University of California.

Moderator: Jenifer Dixon, Air Quality Liaison, EGLE’s Small Business Environmental Assistance Program
Jenifer Dixon is a graduate of Lyman Briggs College at Michigan State University. She served the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) as an air quality inspector for over 15 before becoming the Air Quality Liaison in EGLE’s Small Business Environmental Assistance Program. In this role, Jenifer supported EGLE's Air Quality Division in a variety of roles, including plain language and transitional communication, training and outreach, as well as planning and guidance for public hearings and meetings. Recently, Jenifer has returned to EGLE’s Air Quality Division as the Planning and Policy Coordinator where she continues her work with EGLE’s diverse stakeholders in incorporating plain language, risk and environmental justice. communication work into all air quality programs.