Online Program

Politics of environmental justice and successful local interventions: The Whitehead Model

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 2:50 p.m. - 3:10 p.m.

LaToria Whitehead, PhD, MPH, Department of Political Science, Clark Atlanta University (CAU), Decatur, GA
The dynamics of environmental justice (EJ) are multifaceted; politics, race, income, class, and economics take part in the discrimination and distribution of environmental services. Although, children from all socioeconomic backgrounds can be affected by lead poisoning, children who live at or below the poverty line in older housing, and African-American children are at the highest risk for lead poisoning. Unfortunately, the prevention of this disease can compete with political agendas. This study examined the relationship between the federal government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the effectiveness of this partnership when addressing EJ issues for vulnerable populations. This pioneering research included the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), partnering with an EJ organization to influence policy, increase lead testing, and education of lead poisoning in Savannah, Georgia. The methodology utilized for this research was a multi-method, descriptive, explanatory, case study. A ground breaking, multidimensional model to address environmental injustices, and explore the dynamics of social change between the government and NGO collaborations, the “Whitehead Model” was applied, and guided the study. The Citizens for Environmental Justice (CFEJ) conducted a 6 month intervention with 40 head start parents to increase their knowledge of childhood lead poisoning and lead testing. A control group, who did not participate in the intervention, was also tested. The average test score for the experimental group was higher than the control group, and their knowledge of childhood lead poisoning increased. The EJ group organized a political task force comprised of elected officials and community members to influence the Savannah lead law; 82% of the children were tested for lead, for the first time. The conclusions drawn from the qualitative and quantitative findings suggests the federal government is more effective resolving environmental disparity issues for vulnerable populations, when partnering with EJ organizations that have a relationship with the community.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Identify political barriers that influence environmental justice issues. Describe effective federal government/environmental justice partnerships, and interventions that prevent health disparities and promote optimal health. Discuss a multidimensional framework to address environmental justice issues from a social, political, economical, and public health dynamic. Compare quantitative and qualitative data for a more informative study.

Keyword(s): Environmental Justice, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a political scientist, and I have conducted this study with quantitative and qualitative data. I am the expert and principal investigator of the 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.