This project uses a community-based participatory approach to 1) Conduct formative research;2) Develop an intervention;and 3) Evaluate intervention effects regarding possible health related exposures from metal recycling. Metal recycling is a robust, growing industry in the nation. The benefits of metal recycling over the use of raw materials include energy savings, the conservation of resources, the generation of jobs and the positive impact on trade of significant U.S. exports world-wide. The metal recycling industry in the U.S. generated over $64 billion in 2010. Metal recycling is a growing industry in Houston as well, with over 170 metal recycling facilities in operation. Because of no zoning, many of these sites operate "next-door" to neighborhoods that are predominantly poor and communities of color. During the last five years, the City of Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) received nearly 200 air quality complaints from residents across the city about recycling activities, with the predominant concern being smoke and dust. To the extent that resources were available, the HDHHS Bureau of Pollution Control and Prevention conducted limited ambient air monitoring at 25 recycling facilities. Our preliminary results suggested possible environmental health risks, but there are insufficient data to draw definitive conclusions about the health risks of emissions from these facilities. A partnership arose among the HDHHS, the University of Texas School of Public Health, Rice University and Air Alliance Houston to work together with neighborhood residents and metal recyclers to address this potentially serious environmental health issue. Also, the HDHHS has been working since January 2013 with the metal recyclers'task force consisting of the Recycling Council of Texas and Gulf Coast and National Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI), and in response one metal recycler voluntarily upgraded their facility resulting in reduced aerosol emissions. We propose to conduct extensive air monitoring of metals in particulate matter in affected neighborhoods that will, in turn, inform a risk assessment associated with air emissions from metal recyclers in the community. Based on the risk assessment findings and additional community input, we will use a systematic health promotion planning method to implement and evaluate a multilevel, evidence and behavioral science theory-based public health action plan. The public health action plan will include recommendations for best practices for adoption by metal recyclers and targeted educational campaigns for neighborhood residents, metal recyclers and policy makers and we will re-evaluate emissions and risks following implementation of the plan. Affected neighborhood residents and metal recyclers have a critical role to play in this project to insure that we represent the full range of community concerns in designing and conducting the study, interpreting and disseminating study results and developing and evaluating a public health action plan. The ultimate goal of the project is to improve the health of Houston's communities that border metal recycling facilities.
Owing to nearly 200 air quality complaints from residents whose neighborhoods border metal recycling activities (many of which are predominantly poor and largely Hispanic or African- American), the City of Houston Department of Health and Human Services (HDHHS) conducted limited ambient air monitoring with results that are suggestive of possible environmental health risks. In light of these findings and heightened community concerns due to recent media exposure, the HDHHS partnered with the University of Texas School of Public Health, Rice University and Air Alliance Houston to conduct extensive air monitoring in affected neighborhoods that will, in turn, inform a risk assessment associated with air emissions from metal recyclers in the community. Based on our risk assessment findings and with additional community input from two key stakeholder groups (metal recyclers and neighborhood residents), we further propose to implement and evaluate a multi-level public health action plan that will improve the overall health of Houston's communities that border metal recycling facilities.