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For Better or For Worse: Environmental Health Promotion in Support of Community Action
Hall, EricS, C. Johnson, AND B. White. For Better or For Worse: Environmental Health Promotion in Support of Community Action. 2016 Annual International Society of Exposure Science Meeting, Utrecht, NETHERLANDS, October 09 - 13, 2016.
This research assesses the impact that Environmental Health Education (EHE) can have on: improved civic engagement (i.e., increased interaction with local political and industry leaders on community issues); improved knowledge of environmental exposures and their attendant health risks; and improved community health outcomes.
Environmental Health Education (EHE) is most effective when it incorporates environmental science, risk education, and health education. When paired with the local knowledge of community members, EHE can promote health equity and community action, especially for socially disadvantaged communities, which are disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards. Developing EHE programs that inform residents about toxic exposures that damage their health and affect their quality of life is critical for them to understand their true risk. The community of interest is a public housing development surrounded by landfills, hazardous waste sites, and manufacturing facilities located in a Midwestern city of the United States (Chicago, Illinois). An environmental justice organization, People for Community Recovery (PCR), was the community partner. Data was collected during one week in March 2009 from community residents using both qualitative and quantitative research methods, including both a focus group and a survey instrument provided to two different resident groups, to understand their attitudes/beliefs about environmental hazards, including exposure to hazardous wastes, landfills, and lead, and their preferences for EHE. The data was analyzed using standard qualitative analytical procedures and statistical software, when appropriate.