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Environ Health Toxicol. 2019 Mar;34(1):e2019002. doi: 10.5620/eht.e2019002. Epub 2019 Mar 29.

Environmental Health Studies in the Korean National Industrial Complexes (EHSNIC): Focus-Group Interviews.

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Department of Preventive Medicine, Dankook University College of Medicine, Cheonan, Korea.
Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Ewha Womans University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


This study investigated the social outcomes of the Environmental Health Studies of National Industrial Complex (EHSNIC), which have been conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER) in eight National Industrial Complex Areas (NICAs) since 2003. Eighteen sessions of focus-group interviews with 85 people were conducted from October 2016 to January 2017. Interviewees were stakeholders from eight NICAs and included resident representatives, environmental nongovernment organizations, local government officials, and environmental health and safety officers from companies. Interview results were divided into six categories: EHSNIC awareness, EHSNIC outcomes, EHSNIC limitations, EHSNIC continuation, EHSNIC improvement directions, and EHSNIC results use. They were then further indexed into 23 divisions. EHSNIC awareness varied across stakeholders. A major EHSNIC outcome is that a continued result database was established, which was used as a reference for environmental improvements. EHSNIC limitations included no proper healthcare actions taken during the EHSNIC study period, a lack of EHSNIC results disclosure, a failure to reflect local specificity, and a lack of validity in the results. Regarding EHSNIC continuation, all stakeholders said EHSNIC should be conducted continuously. EHSNIC improvement directions included conducting studies tailored to each NICA, identifying correlations between pollutant exposure and disease, increasing the sample size, and performing repeated studies. Regarding EHSNIC results use, respondents wanted to use the results as a reference to relocate residents, ensure distance between NICAs and residential areas, provide healthcare support, develop local government policies, and implement firms' environmental controls. Since EHSNIC aims to identify the health effects of NICAs on residents and take appropriate actions, it should be continued in the future. Even during the study period, it is important to take steps to preventively protect residents' health. EHSNIC also needs to reflect each NICA's characteristics and conduct reliable research based on stakeholder participation and communication.


Environmental Health Study; National Industrial Complex Areas; focus-group interview; qualitative research; stakeholder

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