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Unbreathable: A Study of Community-Perceived Cancer Mortality from Industrial Toxins along the Houston Ship Channel through Spatial-temporal Analysis in a GIS Environment
Monday, November 17, 2014
Denae King, PhD
BJML School of Public Affairs, Texas Southern University, Houston, TX
Environmental Community Advocates of Galena Park, Galena Park, TX
Lovell Jones, PhD
College of Science & Engineering, Texas A & M University Corpus Christi, Stafford, TX
Environmental factors such as industrial pollution play a significant role on the health of fence-line communities. Prolonged exposure to environmental toxins from living within close proximity to industrial sources of pollution can have profound negative impacts on the overall health and well-being of residents. Recent studies have revealed an increased risk of cancer for communities located near the Houston Ship Channel; however, these studies did not examine cancer mortality. Via participatory engagement with Galena Park, Texas residents, we used comparative spatial analysis in a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) environment, to investigate community-perceived concerns regarding cancer-related death clusters in zip codes surrounding the Houston Ship Channel from 1990 to 2010. The residents’ perceptions of high cancer mortality may be associated with exposure to the industrial toxins, benzene and 1, 3 butadiene, both by-products of petroleum refining and petro-chemical production. The lack of deed restrictions in these areas has rendered the residents a vulnerable population to large industrial releases. Findings from this study reveal increased premature cancer mortality from cancers with known associations to benzene and 1,3 butadiene in the targeted Houston Ship Channel communities compared to other sections of the Houston Metropolitan Area. Additionally, the overall ambient air concentrations of the carcinogens, benzene and 1,3 butadiene, also remain elevated. Communities located fence-line to the Houston Ship Channel should be encouraged to advocate, adopt and implement cancer prevention strategies that encourage the use of sustainable, safe, community-friendly building and industrial technologies.
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences
Describe how spatial analysis can be used to examine community-identified environmental health concerns.
Keyword(s): Participatory Research, Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a cancer prevention and health disparities research fellow for the past 3 years for this study area. My graduate thesis was based on the community-based participatory GIS health assessment I conducted in this area. I plan to pursue a career in the use of GIS as an environmental and social justice advocacy tool for community-based organizations.
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.