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Environmental Justice in Port Arthur, Texas
A community-centered approach to assessing environmental risk

In response to the need for a more comprehensive approach to addressing the health challenges that environmental justice communities typically face, the CEHD, NIEHS COEC, and Community In-Power Development Association, Inc (CIDA) of Port Arthur, Texas, in collaboration with partners at the University of Texas Health Science Center Houston School of Public Health have been developing a joint program of work to translate for practical application, and then apply and test a cumulative risk framework in Port Arthur. Key to this project is joint organization of work with partner communities to ensure accurate representation of local priorities, concerns, and knowledge as well as translation of the concepts and research findings for community use.

The Port Arthur Cumulative Risk Study

Port Arthur was recently named an Environmental Justice Showcase Community by the Environmental Protection Agency, a designation that signifies a community of special environmental justice concern. Initial work has focused on applying conceptual frameworks that combine environmental and social determinants of health into practical assessments.

Environmental health risks are generally assessed by quantifying release of individual toxins in communities, but there is growing recognition that this approach underestimates human health risks in most environmentally burdened communities, since multiple toxins are generally in play. Additionally, environmental justice communities are also likely to have increased social and economic burdens that affect health. These combined effects of both multiple environmental exposures along with risks related to social determinants of health create cumulative risks that can have profound effects on the physical and mental wellbeing of residents, interacting in complex and potentially synergistic processes. Combatting them will require a comprehensive approach.

View the The Port Arthur Cumulative Risk Study Findings

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