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Your Environment. Your Health.


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Principal Investigator: Chari, Ramya
Institute Receiving Award Rand Corporation
Location Santa Monica, CA
Grant Number R01ES025778
Funding Organization National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
Award Funding Period 01 Aug 2015 to 30 Apr 2021
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant):  : Coastal and waterfront areas in the United States are growing increasingly vulnerable to the threat of environmental chemical contamination. As climate change continues unabated, the frequency and severity of major coastal storms is expected to rise. These disaster events heighten the potential for chemicals to become dislocated by facility damage, storm surge, and flooding - creating "fugitive" chemicals. In densely populated coastal and waterfront communities, there is fear of a "toxic soup" of chemicals washed out from business facilities after storm events and dispersed throughout public and residential areas. Of the 143 counties where unequal pollution burdens are reported for low-income populations, 53% are in coastal or waterfront locations. The threats to vulnerable groups and potential long-term health consequences raise the need for effective solutions that empower communities to address fugitive chemical risks. Through an existing partnership between community and research groups, this project will pioneer a new framework - community-based risk assessment (CBRA) - that incorporates a community-based participatory research approach and integrates community members in local data collection efforts. Through CBRA, this project will engage in research to develop a unique community-based intervention called the Business Innovations for Resilience & Community Health (BIRCH) initiative. Due to their integration within residential areas, small polluting businesses are often sources of concern for surrounding neighborhoods. BIRCH will assess the health and exposure risk reduction potential of strategies implemented to reduce chemical releases and help small businesses implements promising practices. This study will focus on the most highly concentrated small business sector, automotive repair and maintenance shops ("auto shops"), in the heavily industrialized waterfront neighborhood of Sunset Park, NY. Auto shops are pollution intensive operations using chemicals associated with cancers and respiratory, cardiovascular, and neurological diseases. While sources of concern, the shops are considered promising partners in community-based actions. The specific aims of this project are: 1) engage community auto shop owners through the establishment of a Business Resilience Team, and inventory shop chemicals, their vulnerability to release, and potential health impacts; 2) conduct probabilistic exposure modeling to characterize people's exposures to fugitive chemicals from auto shops; 3) quantify health and exposure risk reduction impacts from implementation of best management practices for preventing and mitigating chemical releases from auto shops; and 4) pilot test the Business Resilience Toolbox as a resource for auto shops to implement best management practices to reduce fugitive chemical risks. By estimating the health effects of fugitive chemicals and translating research to an innovative program, this project provides a roadmap and tools to empower vulnerable communities to effect sustainable public health change.
Science Code(s)/Area of Science(s) Primary: 97 - Partnerships for Environmental Public Health/Community Research
Publications See publications associated with this Grant.
Program Officer Symma Finn
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