In collaboration with Front and Centered, Washington State Department of Health, Washington State Department of Ecology, and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, today we launched the Washington Environmental Health Disparities Map.
The map is an interactive tool that utliizes up-to-date statewide environmental datasets and population measures in order to rank communities with respect to cumulative environmental risk. The map provides new insights into health inequities at the neighborhood level to help shape state priorities and funding decisions.
Data on multiple environmental indicators are combined in the online tool to show a cumulative score for each of the 1,458 US Census tracts in the state. The tool is hosted by the state Department of Health through its Washington Tracking Network, and is available at: https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/wtn/WTNIBL/
Indicators were chosen based on input from community listening sessions that were held across the state. While data may not exist for all the indicators requested by attendees of the the listening sessions, the environmental health disparities map is meant to be dynamic, and evolve as new data become available.
The tool is meant to be solutions-oriented. Regardless of whether you’re a concerned resident, community leader and organizer, responsible government agency – having a better understanding of the environmental conditions in your community, and the people that are most affected by poor environmental quality – should lead to more informed priorities and focused strategies to improve environmental health.
While the map makes it easy for you to quickly compare the cumulative impact scores between different census tracts, I invite you to dig a bit deeper. Focus in on where you live, work, and play. Explore the various indicators that make up a score for your community. Examine how these indicators jive with what you know and your experience. And think about what needs to be done to be make environmental conditions better!
A report describing the methods and data used by the mapping tool can found here.
A policy brief for the tool can be found here.
Funded by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment of CalEPA, my research group has partnered with Casa Familiar and San Diego State University to conduct a 2-year community-based air monitoring study in the San Ysidro community at the CA-Mexico border.
Motivated by the need to better inform CalEnviroScreen — an Environmental Justice tool developed by CalEPA to map communities disproportionately impacted by environmental health hazards, the study will combine local knowledge from community residents with air pollution monitoring tools and methods provided by academic partners to conduct a year of intensive monitoring within the border community.
Border communities, such as San Ysidro, may face air pollution impacts not felt by other CA communities and existing monitors may not be adequate to measure this impact. Being close to the international border may result in exposure to air pollution from lines of idling vehicles at the Ports of Entry, trade-related commercial trucks, and transport of pollutants from Mexico.
The study will leverage next-generation air quality sensors that measure PM2.5, PM10, CO, NO, NO2, and O3, with high-end research instruments and methods that measure BC, EC/OC, metals, and diesel markers.
The research team recently gave a webinar hosted by CalEPA that discussed Citizen Science, and specifically the goals of the San Ysidro study, the challenges and opportunities for academia and community residents to work together to improve understanding of air pollution in communities and to improve tools like CalEnviroScreen.
The first monitor in this new community monitoring network was officially launched on August 26, 2016.
More information about the study can be found on the project website:
If you have questions, I’m the study PI: firstname.lastname@example.org
The current drought in California highlights how precious a resource water is to the lives of California residents, the state’s natural ecosystems, and its agricultural economy. Over the last few decades, recycled water — the reuse of treated wastewater — has played an important role in meeting ever increasing demands for water. Since the early days of water reuse, questions concerning the safety to public health have been raised numerous times. And, the practice of quantitative microbial risk assessment has responded by evaluating the efficacy of treatment processes on the removal of infectious agents in wastewater, and by assessing quantitatively using risk models, the potential for water reuse to result in infection and disease in human populations through various exposure scenarios.
I was involved in the quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) modeling for a recent review of water reuse for California’s agricultural irrigation. The QMRA was part of a process that involved input from a panel of experts, who addressed a number of issues relevant to developing assumptions for the QMRA, as well as relevant to the interpretation of the QMRA’s findings. The panel and QMRA were commissioned by the California Department of Public Health, which recognized the need to reassess risks given the potential for increasing water reuse in agricultural irrigation, improved knowledge of the concentrations of microbial pathogens found in wastewater, and new treatment processes. The report of the findings from this process is available here.