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Final Progress Reports: Louisiana State University: Community Outreach Core (ARRA Funded)

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Superfund Research Program

Community Outreach Core (ARRA Funded)

Project Leader: Margaret A. Reams
Grant Number: P42ES013648
Funding Period: 2009-2011

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Final Progress Reports

Year:   2010 

The goal of the Community Outreach Core is to work with residents of selected communities in close proximity to Superfund sites to learn more about their informational needs and concerns, and to create a mechanism for interaction between community stakeholders and researchers with the LSU Superfund Center.

The Outreach Team has begun work with residents of North Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Throughout the past six months, the researchers have compiled a detailed case study of the demographics, industrial activities, and levels of toxic chemicals in the air, water and soil, and the health-related environmental concerns of the residents. During this time the researchers have established a partnership with LEAN, a large umbrella organization with over 100 affiliated grassroots environmental groups throughout the state.

The Core began work with an examination of the Alsen neighborhood of North Baton Rouge. Through this initial work they have developed insight into the cumulative nature of environmental pollution issues facing this area. These same issues of multiple sources of industrial pollution in a community with high poverty rates, low levels of education, and relatively few resources with which to mitigate risks and avoid exposure to dangerous substances, are found in other urban, industrialized communities throughout the country. Through discussions with various community stakeholders, researchers have found high levels of concern among these residents that go beyond exposure risks from one single Superfund site. During the first six months of research, they have been reminded that Superfund sites do not exist in a vacuum; they are the results of larger-scale, industrial activities that are found in communities like North Baton Rouge. As a result of these insights, researchers have expanded the geographic area of the proposed outreach effort to include more local organizations and the entire zip-code area of 70807.

Communities with Superfund sites and concentrations of other industrial activities bear high economic, health, ecological and quality-of-life costs associated with a degradation of local environmental resources, often including air, water and soil contamination problems. Well-designed educational outreach programs provide these residents with information about their exposure risks, opportunities to work with other community stakeholders, and ultimately can help them take steps to reduce or mitigate their exposure risks.

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