In North Charleston, South Carolina, a paucity of research has occurred to understand the cumulative impact of sources of air, water, and soil pollution including historic industrial activities, operation of the local incinerator, several Superfund sites, and heavily-trafficked highways have on the overall exposure burden on these economically disadvantaged communities. Limited monitoring and community-based surveillance has occurred to understand the spatial and temporal variation of the exposure of local populations to pollution released from the myriad industrial, point, and non-point sources in the region and how this cumulative exposure has affected environmental quality, community health, quality of life, and neighborhood vitality and sustainability. Without action-oriented community-driven research and advocacy efforts, effective progress will not be made in reducing exposure and preventing pollution. Our long-term goal is to use a community- university partnership between the Low-Country Alliance for Model Communities (LAMC) and the University of South Carolina (USC), the community-based participatory research (CBPR) framework, and collaborative- problem solving model (CPSM) principles to address environmental injustice, public health, and revitalization issues in North Charleston, SC. To achieve this long-term goal, we propose the following specific aims: 1) Assess the geographic distribution of pollution sources in North Charleston, SC, 2) Specific Aim #2: Quantify levels of PM and heavy metals near industrial and non-point sources of pollution in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods in North Charleston, SC, and 3) Increase community capacity to reduce exposure, prevent pollution, and improve public health through community-based outreach, education, and training. The project is novel and significant because it will study the cumulative impacts of pollution on the environment and health of maximally exposed populations in the Charleston area for the first time. The project is innovative because we will employ the CBPR framework and CPSM principles to: 1) educate impacted residents about local pollution sources, 2) collect evidence on community exposure to PM and heavy metals emitted from local pollution sources, 3) build community confidence in scientific research, and 4) empower residents to obtain environmental justice and drive changes in local environmental health policy. The findings will have significance because they will have important implications for pollution prevention, risk reduction activities and strategies, and environmental health policy for economically disadvantaged and overburdened communities in the in the Charleston area.

Public Health Relevance

Project Relevance There is limited information on the spatial distribution and cumulative impact of pollution sources in the Charleston region particularly for disadvantaged populations. This project is relevant to public health because it will provide evidence on the cumulative impact that multiple sources of air, water, and soil pollution have on disadvantaged neighborhoods in North Charleston, South Carolina. This project is also relevant because it use participatory education, outreach, and training to educate residents about their local environmental health risks and ways that they can reduce their exposure and prevention pollution in their local communities.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZES1-SET-V (01))
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Finn, Symma
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University of Maryland College Park
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
College Park
United States
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Svendsen, Erik R; Reynolds, Scott; Ogunsakin, Olalekan A et al. (2014) Assessment of Particulate Matter Levels in Vulnerable Communities in North Charleston, South Carolina prior to Port Expansion. Environ Health Insights 8:5-14
Rice, LaShanta J; Jiang, Chengsheng; Wilson, Sacoby M et al. (2014) Use of segregation indices, Townsend Index, and air toxics data to assess lifetime cancer risk disparities in metropolitan Charleston, South Carolina, USA. Int J Environ Res Public Health 11:5510-26