Online Program

Communicating risk to environmental justice communities: Promoting a culturally-fluent, bi-directional conversation enhancing expertise with local knowledge

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 9:10 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

John Sullivan, MA, NIEHS Center in Environmental Toxicology / Public Forum & Toxics Assistance Division, University of Texas Medical Branch @ Galveston TX, Galveston, TX
Wilma Subra, MS, Technical Advisor, Louisiana Environmental Action Networks, Baton Rouge, LA
Sharon Croisant, MS, PhD, Associate Professor: Department of Pediatrics (CEIID); Director: NIEHS COEC, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
John Prochaska, DrPH, MPH, Department of Preventive Medicine & Community Health, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
Alexandra Nolen, PhD, MPH, Center to Eliminate Health Disparities, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
A CBPR-based risk communication model actively involves EJ communities directly in the design and promotion of site-specific, culturally fluent risk messages. Community members are rich sources of history – industrial practices / emissions (chronic and acute), regulatory efficacy, prior / ongoing health impacts, development, environmental health activist struggles. The community, itself, is the only local knowledge source of important factors in risk characterization such as historical and current exposure pathways, effects of climate events on neighborhood infrastructure and service availability, observation of relationships in patterns of exposure and disease, health disparities, and socio-economic stressors affecting the community: all dimensions of the EJ community's cumulative risk burden. This collaborative model furthers the development of clear, concise, culturally-fluent risk messaging and promotes dissemination by leveraging preexisting community communication networks and open access media formats. Ultimately, this bidirectional methodology promotes active involvement, and extends the depth of interactions among all actors in the risk characterization process. This presentation will focus on planning / implementation of specific communication scenarios with EJ communities in EPA Regions 6 and 4. Scenarios include: 1) hazardous waste disposal / sequestration-treatment issues (dioxin, VX hydrolysate (Port Arthur, TX), RCRA exempt oil exploration / production waste (Grand Boise LA), 2) post-climate disaster risk assessments / safety guidelines: Murphy Oil Spill (Chalmette / Meraux LA), storm surge sediment contamination from legacy compounds (Galveston TX), 3) Deep Water Horizon Disaster: damage to the ecosytem, risks to human health from seafood consumption, (Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama coastal communities). Finally, we will use CBPR values and principles to consider ethical obligations inherent in communicating risk to EJ communities with emphasis on: transparency, process bidirectionality, and considerations of cumulative risk / community vulnerability.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Environmental health sciences
Ethics, professional and legal requirements

Learning Objectives:
Define key concepts: environmental justice community, vulnerable populations, cumulative risk, risk communication. Describe the risk communication process in context of environmental justice communities. List real world scenarios that illustrate risk communication in environmental justice communities. Discuss ethical parameters of risk communication process in environmental justice communities.

Keyword(s): Environmental Health Hazards, Environmental Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am responsible for risk communication in a variety of environmental justice contexts within the UTMB P30 NIEHS Center in Environmental Toxicology / Community outreach & Engagement Core. I currently direct the Public Forum & Toxics Assistance division of the UTMB NIEHS P30 Center in Environmental Toxicology / Community Outreach & Engagement Core.
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.