Online Program

"toxics tour" of a Philadelphia port community: A collaborative environmental hazards mapping process

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Michelle Kondo, Ph.D., M.U.P., University of Pennsylvania; United States Department of Agriculture--Forest Service (Philadelphia field station), Philadelphia, PA
Chris Mizes, M.S., Clean Air Council, Philadelphia, PA
In Philadelphia, exposure to air pollutants is an environmental justice concern. Port Richmond (pop. 38,000) is a neighborhood in northeast Philadelphia adjacent to the Delaware River. Like other communities along this river, it is burdened disproportionately with environmental hazards. It is bisected by a major freeway, and is home to a major Port terminal and many large industrial facilities.

The goals of this project were to build knowledge and capacity to improve environmental health in Port Richmond. This project follows two prior CBPR studies to collect air pollution measurements and disseminate results. In this phase, we used participatory methods to train and collect local knowledge about environmental health hazards, with a focus on Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs). Our aims were to: 1. host two computer-aided training and community mapping sessions to document the use, storage and release of HAPs according to both government databases and local knowledge; 2. to conduct a “Toxics Tour” of sites of particular concern; and 3. to disseminate our findings (via media product) with community residents, organizations and local officials. We used ethnographic methods, including audio and video-recordings of the training, community mapping, and Toxics Tour, to analyze major themes emerging from the project. In addition, we used Participatory GIS methods to create an environmental hazards map with residents' input. We will describe our methods for each of these project components, share a scene from the media product, and explain findings from ethnographic study of this process. We will also describe implications for other groups aiming to act collaboratively to incorporate state and local knowledge in to environmental hazards mapping.

Learning Areas:

Communication and informatics
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Define a model for collaborative environmental hazards mapping; Describe challenges, and solutions, in conducting this type of process.

Keyword(s): Air Pollutants, Environmental Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator on this project.
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.