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Current Branch Environmental Justice Activities

Environmental Justice Expert Panel Meeting—October 2009

A panel composed of environmental justice experts from diverse backgrounds such as community organizations, academia, research, federal and state governments, public health, law, policy creation, and housing alliances met at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop environmental justice guidance for the Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch (Branch).

Panel members discussed ways to incorporate environmental justice principles and policies into Branch activities. More information about the discussions will be in a meeting report to be issued later.

Panel members:

  • Bunyan Bryant, PhD, professor, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment;
  • Robert Bullard, PhD, founder and Director, Environmental Justice Resource Center, Clark Atlanta University;
  • Deeohn Ferris, JD, president, Sustainable Community Development Group, Inc.;
  • Leslie Fields, JD, program director, Environmental Justice and Community Partnerships, Sierra Club;
  • Bill Gallegos, director, Communities for a Better Environment;
  • Amy MacDonald, MPH, program coordinator, North Carolina Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program;
  • Mildred McClain, EdD, founder and director, Citizens for Environmental Justice, Inc.;
  • Ogonnaya Dotson-Newman, research coordinator, WE ACT for Environmental Justice;
  • Cynthia Peurifoy, environmental justice program manager, Region 4, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency;
  • Ralph Scott, director, community projects, Alliance for Healthy Homes;
  • Fatemeh Shafiei, PhD, associate professor, political science, Spelman College; and
  • Beverly Wright, PhD, executive director, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice.

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Savannah Environmental Justice Project

In 2007, CDC concerned about lead poisoning rates among young children in Savannah, Georgia, formed the Savannah Environmental Justice Project to increase awareness of childhood lead poisoning among hard-to-reach populations in Savannah, Georgia. Children in such populations often are those most likely to be exposed disproportionately to lead hazards. Project partners are the Branch, Citizens for Environmental Justice, Georgia State Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, and the Chatham County (Georgia) Environmental Health Department.

Increasing the number of children aged 1–5 years who receive blood lead testing is one of the partners’ top priorities. Children who have elevated blood lead levels receive follow-up medical case management and environmental investigation. Their parents or caregivers receive information on ways to reduce or eliminate lead exposure and the health effects of lead exposure. The project partners aim to build the community’s ability to combat childhood lead poisoning and other environmental concerns effectively, and to design strategic public health policies to eliminate lead hazards in Savannah.

The Branch has developed an evaluation model to assess the effectiveness of the partnership as an example of collaboration among government agencies and an environmental justice organization. The assessment focuses specifically on the effectiveness of the environmental justice organization in influencing public policy.

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Historically Black Colleges and Universities Geographic Information System Immersion Workshop at Clark Atlanta University

The Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services (Division) at CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health supports partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as an important method of helping to reduce and eliminate public health disparities in the United States. As part of its support to HBCUs, the Division participates in geographic information system (GIS) workshops at Clark Atlanta University. GIS computer technology is a highly effective way to collect and analyze information related to specific locations.

During 1-day workshops at Clark Atlanta University, students learn how GIS technology is used to help identify inequalities in health care, housing, and environmental conditions. Students receive hands-on experience in the use of scientific methods to examine social structures and how various parts of society interact. During a practical exercise, students discover first-hand how using GIS techniques can help detect environmental health disparities.

Clark Atlanta University’s first GIS workshop, November 2, 2009, was developed by Dr. Charles Crooner, specifically for use at HBCUs. Clark Atlanta University conducted other one day GIS workshops in February, March, and April 2010. After completion of the workshops, students presented the results of their GIS practical exercise to CDC staff. Students completed a ten-week summer internship within the Division of Emergency and Environmental Health Services (Division) in August 2010. Clark Atlanta University has added a GIS course to their curriculum for all disciplines. The first course will take place in fall 2011.

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