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The Port Arthur Cumulative Risk Study

The Port Arthur Cumulative Risk Study focuses on developing practical application of cumulative risk concepts and frameworks to allow for complex analyses that include social determinants of health along with multiple environmental exposures within a community.

Above: CIDA Inc, Executive Director Hilton Kelley was selected as the 2011 "Goldman Environmental Prize" winner for North America for his outstanding environmental service for the people and the environment of our nation and his home town. Click on the above image to learn more.

Several activities have been undertaken, including capacity building workshops with CIDA to strengthen research skills in community mapping, as well as an early research effort to assess the potential for using existing quantitative data to assess cumulative risk. The training workshop on community mapping was aimed at identifying local assets and hazards - aspects of the built or physical community. Those social determinant indicators were added to additional indicators related to social and economic assets and hazards, such as unemployment, poverty, segregation, crime, limited access to quality and affordable foods, and reduced access to healthcare and related services, to build a picture combining database information and local knowledge.

Below: The CEHD, NIEHS COEC, and Pacific Institute joined forces with CIDA for training in community mapping to identify social and environmental threats in Port Arthur's West Side Neighborhood.

Finally, routinely collected data on air quality from the National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA) provided information on air quality. This data source is utilized by state, local and Tribal agencies to prioritize pollutants, emission sources and locations of interest for further study; but its utility and accuracy at small area local levels (i.e., neighborhoods) is limited.

Preliminary findings demonstrated a significant burden of social determinants of health in the West-side neighborhood of Port Arthur. Surprisingly, NATA indicated relatively better air quality in this neighborhood compared to the more affluent areas of Port Arthur. However, the entire area has significantly worse air quality than the rest of the State. Thus, residents of the West-side neighborhood face both increased social and environmental sources of risk. Additionally, the limitations of the NATA data raise the question of accuracy in representing air quality at the small-neighborhood level. While this early research identifies shortcomings in the availability of routinely collected data that limits cumulative risk assessment, the CEHD will be working over the next year to build communities’ capacity to undertake their own research, and to develop strategies to overcome some of the deficits in data that currently exist. Findings are currently being prepared for publication.

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