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Final Progress Reports: University of California-San Diego: Community Engagement and Urban Agriculture: Addressing Concerns About Toxicants in Soil, Water and Plants

Superfund Research Program

Community Engagement and Urban Agriculture: Addressing Concerns About Toxicants in Soil, Water and Plants

Project Leader: Keith Pezzoli
Grant Number: P42ES010337
Funding Period: 2005-2023
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Final Progress Reports

Year:   2016  2009 

In 2009, UCSD’s SRP Community Outreach Core continued to advance its aims in five significant ways. First, they built and mantained IT infrastructure to support inter-Tribal, Academic and Government collaborations as part of the Tribal Environmental Health Collaborative (TEHC). The TEHC is a regional Tribal-led effort to systematically identify, prioritize and address environmental health issues on Tribal land through Tribal-government-academic partnerships. Second, they provided service learning internship opportunities for senior undergraduate students at UCSD to work on priority environmental health and regional policy issues (including those issues relating to Tribal Policy and Planning). Third, they engaged community organizations working on environmental health and justice issues along the San Diego-Tijuana U.S.-Mexico Border Region and participated in community outreach efforts to educate the public about environmental and global health issues. Part of this work has allowed the COC to present its work on Spanish language radio and educate the public about environmental health issues, including those affecting indigenous peoples. Forth, they’ve worked directly with impacted communities along the U.S.-Mexico border to produce a 29 minute long UCSD-TV documentary titled &quotLos Laureles Canyon: Research in Action." The TV documentary explores the nexus between poverty, environmental toxicants and climate change issues. And fifth, they partnered with professional environmental health organizations and associations to highlight SRP work and forge new partnerships, including participating in the 2008 U.S. EPA Community Involvement Training Conference (CIT) in Seattle, WA. The UCSD COC role in the U.S. EPA’s CIT conference was to highlight our work on Tribal lands along with related tribal work being conducted by SRP colleagues from University of Washington and University of Arizona.

The close relationship with Tribal partners and the participation in community-led environmental health efforts like the TEHC is a very effective way to understand, prioritize and help address issues dealing with the impacts of Superfund chemicals in vulnerable communities. This collaboration has opened opportunities for UCSD students to gain experience working with Tribal issues. Past UCSD interns have been hired by regional government agencies to continue their work with Tribes. In addition, regional efforts are complemented by our work with Dr. Marshall Cheung that connects directly with the U.S. EPA National Tribal Science Council (NTSC). Having direct communication with the NTSC opens up opportunities for us to develop relationships with and partner with other Tribal communities that might be among the most impacted in the country by Superfund chemicals, while utilizing the lessons learned and tools developed at the regional level. Similarly, outreach efforts with poor communities along the U.S.-Mexico border allow understanding the environmental health concerns, information and expertise needs of these vulnerable populations. The work in the border allows them to better understand the relationship between rapidly expanding poor urban settlements and the presence of Superfund chemicals in the environment. They are now working in close partnership with planning agencies in the region developing new relationships that are allowing them to inform decision-makers about environmental health issues.

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