Five Questions with Emmanuel Rivera, Health & Environmental Investigator III, Natural Resources & Parks

Emmanuel Rivera1. What was your first role at King County? My first role at King County involved working within the Local Hazardous Waste Management Program (LHWMP) as a Health and Environmental Investigator.  As part of the Survey Team,  I did business cold calls throughout King County regarding proper use, storage and disposal of hazardous products and waste.

2. What do you do as a Health and Environmental Investigator? As an HE&I III, I am currently the outreach coordinator for LHWMP’s Indoor Chemical Hazards project.  My primary function is to provide outreach to underserved communities regarding cleaning products with the goal of reducing exposure to and use of harsh cleaning chemicals. The outreach relies on building relations with community organizations, participating in networking group meetings, tabling at community events, and providing Cleaning with Caution workshops.

3. What sort of training is needed for the job? Because the cleaning outreach efforts involve communities with unique cultures and languages, my training involves attending specific cultural competency workshops when available and learning from community partners and advocates.  Training in equity and social justice is also necessary to be effective and successful in working with the target audience and in building community relations.

4. What is the biggest challenge in your job? The biggest challenge I have are the language barriers. I must trust and rely on interpreters when presenting to a non-English speaking group.  Even with a good interpreter, I sometimes feel, based on audience facial expressions and body language, that the message may not have been understood.   Clear, open communications with the interpreter is necessary before and during the workshops. As for translations, professional translating documents may be too formal or not match with the conversational language of the community.  I will always have a community advocate review and edit materials that have been translated by a professional service.

5. What do you like most about your job? What I like most about my job is building relations with a variety of communities and cultures and my schedule flexibility that allows me to reach my communities at their convenience, time and availability.