Saturday, January 7, 2012

Environmental Justice and Air Quality

Here is the summary from our workshop on Dec 29th, 2011

Participatory Priority Ranking of EJ issues in Coachella Valley
Ryan G. Sinclair PhD, MPH –
Loma Linda University Department of Environmental Health and Geoinformatic Sciences

Purpose - A Loma Linda University team from the department of Environmental Health held a participatory priority-ranking workshop with several Community groups from the Coachella Valley (Table 1). The purpose of this workshop was to prioritize environmental justice issues that relate to air quality in the Coachella valley.  An output of the workshop was to develop a list of air quality EJ priority issues and then rank those priorities. This method is published in anthropological literature as the Participatory Analysis for Community Action (PACA) technique. The method is also known as “free lists” and “pile sorting”.   
Methods -The December 29th morning workshop took approximately four hours to complete and come to a consensus on priorities. The workshop used the published PACA method and came up with the Environmental Justice Air Quality project priorities listed in Table 2. Participants then ranked the environmental Justice problems that contribute to poor air quality in the Coachella Valley.  The topics are listed in descending order of priority with unregulated dump sites as the highest priority.
Results - Unregulated dump-sites was the highest priority area. Some of the examples of dump-sites in this category included the “Mount San Diego”, the Larson dump site, and the recent odor emissions from Western Environmental in Mecca. The second ranked priority was a lack of air quality monitoring stations in the Coachella Valley. The remaining priorities are listed in Table 2 below.
Interpretation - Workshop participants produced the results in table 2 without specifying a location preference. The topics chosen suggest that the largest Environmental Justice need is in the Eastern Coachella Valley. It is possible to plot the Table 2 problems on a map to verify that these problems exist largely in the eastern portion of Coachella Valley south of the city of Coachella. This is the suggested site for any environmental justice project that is funded by the AQMD. 

Table 1. Participants in the December 31st meeting.
Promotoras Comunidad del deserto
El Sol Neighborhood Committee
Planned Parenthood
Mecca community members
Fuerza Hispana
Comite Civico del Vale
Torres Martinez Indians
Pueblo Unido
National Latino Research Council
Coachella Valley Unified School District ASES
Thermal Chamber of Commerce
Building Healthy Communities Eastern Coachella Valley
RAICES del Valle

Table 2. Environmental Justice problems, listed during the December 31st workshop. Participants were asked to rank environmental Justice problems that contribute to poor air quality in the Coachella Valley.
EJ problem in Coachella Valley
PACA rank
Unregulated dump sites
Lack of AQ monitors
Particulate Matter and Air quality
Dirt Roads
Transportation Emissions
Salton Sea
Agricultural Practices
Heavy industry
Agricultural Field Burning
Lack of interest in Env. Justice

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