Applied Environmental Research

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Tamtalu Subdistrict, Bannangsta District in Yala Province, southern Thailand was the site of an abandoned tin mine, and was contaminated by lead and arsenic from the mine tailings. As children are a high risk group from these highly toxic contaminants, this study aimed to identify approaches to reduce children's exposure in the area. The study was conducted through participatory action research (PAR) to empower the community strengthen sustainable risk management. The participants were local public health officials, public health volunteers, parents of local children and local community leaders. The participants were engaged in activities relating to risk communication, training on exposure prevention, planning of risk management and implementation of the plan. The children's risks were communicated to the villagers during community meetings. Trainings on how to prevent As and Pb exposure were provided, and preventive strategies planned and implemented. After a six-month period of the intervention, levels of As and Pb in the hair of local children's decreased significantly (p< 0.01 and p< 0.05, respectively). The parents' knowledge of how to prevent children from As and Pb exposure increased significantly (p<0.01). The results indicated that PAR can be used to mitigate problems of chronic environmental exposure and poisoning. In addition, the Ottawa Chatter concept can be applied for long-term management. Economic status and effective risk reduction programmes are key determinants for successful implementation of local community-based risk management plans.

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