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Public Lab Research note


Impacted Communities - Citizen Science in a "No Zoning" City from Strategy to Solutions

by mashalawais | November 30, 2020 21:25 30 Nov 21:25 | #25143 | #25143

Introduction:

Creating a resource document that will help communities identify and solve localized environmental contamination issues and increase awareness around health risk from identifying exposure risk to connecting community to solutions.

Our main concern:

Residents in communities of color face the health impact of chemical and industrial contamination at a significantly higher rate especially considering Houston has no zoning laws and industrial sites are often located near communities of color. Environmental Pollution can have significant impact on communities and often monitoring and mitigating efforts are too far and few between. I want to be able to create a document and resource guide for citizens to help:

1. Identify their surrounding (no zoning means toxic neighbors) 2. Assess their local level of risk 3. Have a network of organizations to communicate and raise awareness for their environmental concerns 3. Find Solutions to mitigating their risk and reduce their exposure

Obstacles and supporting information:

I focus on communities that are on the fenceline but the current obstacle is understanding the scope of contamination and pocket contamination in neighborhoods and its impact throughout Houston and identifying common trends in advocacy efforts that can help people navigate the reality of living in a toxic environment. Not only petrochemical refineries, we also have dry cleaners, industrial warehouses, chemical fires, storage tanks and essentially little awareness and education on how to navigate protecting human health. I would like to create a document that helps bring resources together for community from understanding if they are being exposed to contamination, how to report it, and how to reduce their exposure, and mitigate and protect their health.

Who is engaged in this concern?

I work with partner organizations as a network of local advocates and experts that come together to help connect communities protect their environment

What are the initial questions?

What are the resources that currently exist for community members?

How can you identify if you are living near a toxic site?

How do you draw connections from environmental contamination to human health?

What are the industries nearby that are polluting our region?

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2 Comments

Hi @mashalawais These are great questions for a community resource guide to tackle. I'm only beginning to learn about resources that can help identify nearby industrial facilities and pollutants, and one that comes to mind is EPA's Envirofacts database. Its search accesses multiple EPA datasets, with some data being industry self-reported and some being agency reported.

This recent post about databases is focused on air quality, but it mentions a few resources that cover several topics like air, water, and land.

Hi Thanks for sharing. Yes, the EPA website has a great list of resources, I hope to use that as a reference and try to make something that is accessible for communities like a step by step guide. Would love to stay in touch and hear more of what you discover as we keep learning :)


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