220446 Harnessing science to promote environmental justice at the local level: Boundary networks and Rochester's “smart” lead law:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 8:50 AM - 9:10 AM

Katrina Korfmacher, PhD , Environmental Health Sciences Center, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Many communities facing environmental justice issues lack scientific expertise, making it difficult for them to play an effective role in the policy process. This presentation will share the strategies of one community group that succeeded in leveraging extensive technical support for their efforts. The Rochester New York Coalition to Prevent Lead Poisoning formed in 2001 with the goal of eliminating childhood lead poisoning by 2010. The Coalition recruited diverse community stakeholders into a collaborative process which led to the first local lead law in upstate New York. Throughout the process, the Coalition was committed to using the best available science. Despite lack of financial resources, the Coalition successfully infused the debate about a new lead law with local data, national analyses, and the latest medical research. We argue that this was facilitated by the Coalition's successful development of a “boundary network” of individuals who provided extensive technical input throughout the process. The input of this boundary network contributed significantly to the Coalition's power in the local policy arena. As a result of the Coalition's advocacy, in 2005 the Rochester City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that has been hailed as one of the nation's “smartest” lead laws. Many communities are looking to Rochester's new lead ordinance as a model. Both the process and outcome of this case provide valuable lessons for community-based efforts to promote scientifically sound local environmental health and justice policies.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Define a "boundary network" of experts and how a community group may go about developing, sustaining, and effectively using such a network. 2. Describe three ways in which relationships with varied technical experts can add to the policy power of a community group to address a local environmental justice issue.

Keywords: Environmental Justice, Lead

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: PI of study
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.