ATSDR’s Stories of Collaboration

A mother and her two children working in the garden

ATSDR recently released its 2021 Annual Report.

The focus of the ATSDR 2021 Annual ReportListening, Responding, & Taking Action are stories of collaboration. These stories, and more, mirrors ATSDR’s commitment to engaging and involving communities as a core part of our work to protect communities from harmful health effects related to exposure to natural and man-made hazardous substances. This report shows how ATSDR works with citizens and agencies at every level to respond to environmental concerns. ATSDR does this by responding to environmental health emergencies; investigating emerging environmental health threats; conducting research on the health impacts of hazardous waste sites; and building capabilities of and providing actionable guidance to local, state, and tribal health partners.

ATSDR’s Focus: Listening, Responding, & Taking Action

In the ATSDR 2021 Annual Report, there are stories such as:

Professionals in a meeting room talking. Text: Be the change in your community - Learn more about ATSDR's petition process.

A petition is a request, written as a letter or email, that asks ATSDR to investigate specific environmental health concerns in a community.

A concerned student using ATSDR’s petition process to request a public health investigation on an environmental health concern spanning two cities in Virginia and Tennessee who share an odorous landfill.

The Penobscot Indian Nation (PIN) uses ATSDR’s health consultation on anadromous fish in the nearby river to learn about possible health risks from eating fish contaminated with per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

The National ALS Registry expands its reach by linking persons with ALS (PALS) to scientists conducting research with the goal of slowing disease progression and getting closer to a cure.

The 2021 report also features collaboration with national, state, local, and territorial partners including

A group of environmental justice activists

ATSDR is broadening the reach of its equity and justice efforts with two tools, the Public Health Assessment Health Equity Module and the Environmental Justice Index.

What’s Next for ATSDR

The report’s “What’s Next section features our emerging initiatives such as

  • Advancing our data modernization strategy towards a new future state of connected, adaptable, and sustainable response-ready systems and data that help to more effectively and efficiently respond to the evolving public health needs related to environmental contaminants, and
  • Deepening our longtime environmental justice and health equity work through the development of the Environmental Justice Index and the ATSDR Public Health Assessment Guidance Manual Health Equity Module


The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) serves as a science-based public health agency working to address community concerns about hazardous substances. For more than three decades, ATSDR has worked with communities across the United States to identify and reduce community exposures that might lead to harmful health effects. To date, we have taken action to keep people safe from environmental hazards in more than 6,000 communities.

To read these stories and learn more about ATSDR’s work, visit the 2021 ATSDR Annual Report’s website.