Community-Campus Partnerships for Health
University of Washington
Box 354809 Seattle, WA 98195-4809
Kellogg Community Health Scholars Program
National Program Office
University of Michigan School of Public Health
109 Observatory St., M4142 SPHII
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2029
Four ways to make environmental decision-making more just
1) Make the decision process more democratic. Decisions affecting public health and the environment are often made without input from impacted communities. For example, government agency approval of a proposed project is often based on the results of a risk assessment, which is normally conducted by expert consultants hired by polluting companies or by government agency professionals. Communities rarely have the resources to participate in these technical studies, and therefore have limited participation —if any—in the decision-making process.
What communities must know
Biomonitoring, the study of chemical burdens in our bodies through the testing of bodily tissues and fluids (blood, urine, breast milk), can be an important community health research tool. It creates a new form of community right-to-know and can bolster organizing campaigns by providing objective evidence of exposure. However, many environmental health researchers and advocates are concerned about potential pitfalls for low-income communities of color. Some of the potential limitations to the promise of biomonitoring may include:
Communities can use biomonitoring to pinpoint poisons, and fight back.
What if you found out that the toxic chemicals and heavy metals found in hazardous landfills were also in your body? Then, what if you learned that the companies and industries responsible for producing those poisons were not held accountable?
Barrio Logan residents use research and land use planning to prevent harm
Environmental justice activists commonly complain about incompatible land uses that put community residents and polluting industries close to one another. Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) and residents of Barrio Logan in San Diego have advocated for more than 15 years to remedy land use dilemmas through such strategies as re-zoning; moving or shutting down small industrial facilities; and implementing maximum pollution prevention for large industries that cannot move such as shipyards.