West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project research reveals dangerous pollution hotspots

As the Moving Forward Network members that do air pollution monitoring know from on-the-ground experience, EPA regulatory air monitors may show an area to have low levels of particulate matter from diesel exhaust and other air pollution when in fact, nearby hot spots can have high and dangerous levls of air pollution.

For example, while the city’s only EPA regulatory monitor showed air was relatively clean, monitoring by the Diesel Health Project around the BNSF Argentine Rail Yard in Kansas City, Kansas revealed dangerous levels of elemental carbon (an indicator of Diesel Exhaust pollution) in nearby resident’s yards, very likely from a nearby locomotive maintenance yard at which as many as 50 locomotives at a time, many running, await load testing.

Currently, measuring air pollution in overburdened neighborhoods at a high enough level of granularity to comprehensively identify hot spots is very difficult and expensive, and beyond the capabilities of most environmental justice and other community organizations.  

However, research published this week shows how this can be done – and that the results are of great value.  A study carried out by MFN member West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP), the Environmental Defense Fund, Aclima, and the University of Texas at Austin using data collected by Google Street View cars produced findings that were concerning and surprising.

Most significantly, the data shows pollution variations within single blocks in Oakland of as high as 5X, and revealed hotspots that were often very persistent and stable.  

The wide range of pollution levels and the persistence of hotspots tells us something else – in many cases workers and residents are being exposed to much higher levels of pollution and hence higher health risks than they or anyone else knows. We need to build on this research to develop the capability of community-based groups to conduct this level of monitoring in overburdened neighborhoods throughout the U.S.  There are children growing up in these neighborhoods who will sooner or later suffer from underdeveloped lungs, asthma, heart disease, cancer, and other health problems.  The sooner we identify and clean up these hot spots, the more people we can save from air pollution’s health effects, misery, and in some cases, premature death.  

To learn more, view the excellent video with commentary by WOEIP founders Margaret Gordon and Brian Beveridge or read the news articles linked below.  For a deeper dive, click the last link to read the entire journal article.

Google collects air pollution data using Street View cars and offers it to scientists, VentureBeat

Google shares Street View pollution maps, Left Lane News

Tracking Air Quality Block By Block, California Healthline

High-Resolution Air Pollution Mapping with Google Street View Cars: Exploiting Big Data, (complete study) Environmental Science and Technology

Margaret Gordon and other EJ speakers at Oakland Voices for Trade Justice: A NAFTA Town Hall – April 20

One of the founders of the Moving Forward Network and most accomplished EJ activists in the U.S., Margaret Gordon, is going to speak on Thursday, April 20 in Oakland about the pollution caused by freight transportation in communities of color, and share lessons learned on how to improve community health.  Her presentation and talks by three other outstanding speakers makes this a “must-attend” event.  Sign up today!

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ANNOUNCED! Youth, Public Health, Enviro Justice Speakers @
4/20 Oakland Voices for Trade Justice: A NAFTA Town Hall 

 CaptureWe’re excited to announce a powerful line-up of multi-generational speakers at our April 20 trade justice forum, including activists from the immigration rights, youth, environmental justice, and public health communities.

 

“Migration is Beautiful” butterfly graphic courtesy of Favianna Rodriguez.

RSVP Today! Don’t miss these dynamic presenters:

  • Margaret Gordon, a veteran African-American environmental justice organizer with the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project. She’ll speak to the pollution impacts of trade-related freight transport through low-income communities of color and share about opportunities to improve community health.

  • Joell Echevarria, an African-American youth social justice organizer with Hip Hop for Change and Rooted in Resilience. He will speak on the economic insecurity faced by young adults of color in Oakland.

  • Gerardo Omar Marín, who serves as Co-Director of Rooted in Community and Youth Program Director of The Pollination Project. Rooted in traditional Mexican healing art, agriculture, and music, Gerardo has dedicated his service to boost the power and unity in inter-cultural youth, social justice, and Mother Earth and will speak to the impacts NAFTA has had on Mexico.

  • Malinda Markowitz, Co-President of the California Nurses Association, the state’s premiere organization of registered nurses and a leading advocate of guaranteed healthcare by expanding and updating Medicare to cover all Americans. Malinda will speak about the threats to affordable medicines posed by new monopoly patents that corporations are seeking through new trade schemes.

EVENT SUMMARY: NAFTA has failed people across North America, and unless working people and communities are at the table, Trump’s renegotiation plans could make it even worse. Join the California Trade Justice Coalition for an engaging discussion of the devastating impacts NAFTA has had on workers, migrants, and the environment, hear from local leaders fighting for economic justice, and learn how we can take action to make sure NAFTA renegotiations truly benefit people and the environment.

WHERE: Citizen Engagement Lab, 1330 Broadway, 3rd Floor, Oakland

WHEN: Thursday, April 20th from 6:00 – 8:00 pm

RSVP: Click here to secure your spot!

Cosponsors: California Nurses Association, California Trade Justice Coalition, Citizens Trade Campaign, Friends of the Earth, Global Exchange, Rooted in Resilience, Sierra Club, California Labor Federation

Toward a more just, vibrant, and sustainable future for us all,

Aaron Lehmer-Chang
Director
California Trade Justice Coalition
A Citizens Trade Campaign affiliate
Will Wiltschko
Lead Organizer
California Trade Justice Coalition
A Citizens Trade Campaign affiliate

 More About California Trade Justice News & Alerts

California Trade Justice News is a quarterly publication of the California Trade Justice Coalition (CTJC), a project of Earth Island Institute, and proud affiliate of the Citizens Trade Campaign. The CTJC is a new coalition of labor, environmental, family farm, public health, immigrant rights, human rights, pro-democracy, and socially conscious business leaders — all committed to building a strong California economy that works for all.

PUBLISHER: Aaron Lehmer-Chang, ED

CONTRIBUTORS: Will Wiltschko, Lead Organizer, Jake Soiffer, Social Media & Communications Intern

Like us on Facebook! | Follow us on Twitter! | Support our efforts today!

CONTACT INFO:

California Trade Justice Coalition
436 14th Street, Suite 1216
Oakland, CA  94612
Web: www.catradejustice.org

Margaret Gordon keynote speaker at Vallejo CA Environmental Justice Town Hall to stop the Vallejo Marine Terminal

Residents of Vallejo, California have banded together as  Fresh Air Vallejo to fight a cement plant and private bulk marine terminal proposed for San Francisco Bay.  The terminal was secretly planned by several city commissioners and others, and threatens to unleash an “environmental nightmare.”

margaret-gordonWisely, they are talking with the folks in Oakland who won the battle against a similar bulk terminal in their city, including Margaret Gordon, co-founder of the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project (WOEIP).  Ms. Gordon is the keynote speaker for their environmental justice town hall, “From the Cradle to the Grave — The Impact of Environmental Racism on Communities of Color, on September 30 in Vallejo.

“Environmental justice means that communities of color can break the cycle of heavy industry and pollution being dumped into their neighborhood. This event will help empower South Vallejo residents to stand up and take action on decisions made in our city.” (Peter Brooks, president of FAV)

To learn more about the issues and the town hall meeting, please visit the Fresh Air Vallejo web site, or check out the news articles below.

 Environmentalists Outline Opposition To Cement Plant, Marine Terminal In North Bay, Benicia Patch

Another Port Proposal For San Francisco Bay Sparks Opposition, Earth Island Journal