246628 Influences on environmental risk perceptions and adaptive behaviors among residents of Louisiana's Industrial Corridor

Monday, October 31, 2011

Margaret Reams, PhD , Department of Environmental Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
Nina Lam, PhD , Department of Environmental Sciences, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
The research examines patterns of public risk perceptions concerning various environmental hazards found in the highly industrialized communities of East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. Located along the Mississippi River, the Parish is home to several Superfund sites, numerous petro-chemical manufacturing plants, and multiple waste-disposal facilities, resulting in high levels of TRI emissions to air, water and land. The research questions addressed are: 1) what factors account for variation in levels of knowledge and concern about local environmental hazards; 2) and under what conditions are residents more likely to adopt risk-mitigation behaviors? While there is a rich literature dealing with environmental risk perceptions, few studies have examined the attitudes and behaviors of residents living in highly industrialized areas such as Louisiana's Industrial Corridor wherein residents face cumulative environmental risks from multiple sources of contaminants. Working with elected members of the East Baton Rouge Parish Metropolitan Council, researchers began surveying attendees of district Council meetings during 2010, with data gathering to be completed in April 2011. Dependent variables indicating levels of knowledge about environmental hazards; degree of concern about air and water quality; and adaptive steps taken to reduce potential exposure risks will be derived from the surveys. Independent variables include: proximity to Superfund sites; TRI emissions by zip code; access to information sources about environmental hazards; membership in community advocacy groups; and socio-economic and demographic attributes of respondents. The researchers will use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and multiple regression techniques to evaluate the influence of these variables on risk perceptions and personal risk-mitigation behaviors. The research is supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) as part of the community outreach and engagement program of the Superfund Research Center at Louisiana State University (LSU).

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Environmental health sciences
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1) Identify environmental issues of most concern to residents of Louisiana's Industrial Corridor; 2) Indentify the extent to which these residents have adopted risk-reducing behaviors; 3) Assess the relative influence of key social, economic and environmental factors on residents' risk perceptions and adoption of behavioral changes to reduce potential exposure to environmental hazards

Keywords: Environmental Health Hazards, Environmental Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am the leader of the Community Outreach Core of the LSU Superfund Research Center and direct the research project that will be summarized in the proposed presentation. I am an associate professor in LSU's Department of Environmental Sciences.
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.