- Jill Johnston, PhD
- Bhavna Shamasunder, PhD
- mark! Lopez, MA
Research Project Description
Lead is a well understood poison with serious long-term developmental, neurological, and other health impacts for exposed populations. A lead-acid battery recycling plant in Los Angeles County processed ~40,000 batteries daily. Despite known violations, regulatory agencies allowed the facility to operate on a temporary permit for over 30 years, resulting in a large-scale environmental disaster in a Latinx community already struggling with environmental injustice and health disparities. While limited efforts are underway to remediate the most contaminated homes to prevent future exposures, removing lead does not undo the harm from earlier exposures. Removing lead helps limit future exposure, but cleanup on its own does little to address past exposure or long-term health costs borne by residents. We know from decades of environmental justice scholarship that the combined outcomes of inequitable policies, uneven regulatory enforcement, land use decisions, and market-based forces can leave a landscape of disproportionate environmental exposures in poor communities of color. Issues in East Los Angeles reflect this national pattern where industrial waste streams have left communities living on the fenceline at risk of harmful exposure. This community-academic research collaboration seeks to build resilience in the context of lead poisoning and asks: 1) What are soil lead levels in the community a) in untested homes and b) after state-funded cleanup? 2) What does a community need to build long term resilience and health in the context of pervasive lead contamination from an industrial site?
Combined learning from lead soil testing, outdoor use surveys, and focus groups will be disseminated in multiple formats such as infographics, outreach materials, and public meetings to broader stakeholders with the aim of tracking cleanup and introducing meaningful community programs.
Jill Johnston, PhD
Jill Johnston, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine in the Division of Environmental Health at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC). She is an exposure scientist and environmental epidemiologist who has established a strong independent community-based participatory research program focused on pollution exposures and environmental health disparities in both rural and urban communities.
Bhavna Shamasunder, PhD
Bhavna Shamasunder, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Urban and Environmental Policy Department at Occidental College. She is an environmental health and justice scholar who conducts community engaged and policy relevant research with a focus on cumulative burdens, including consumer product and place-based chemical exposures, and their interaction with social and economic stressors such as racism and poverty, on health outcomes.
mark! Lopez, MA
mark! Lopez, MA, is Director of East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, a community- based organization that has brought together the predominantly working poor BIPOC residents of East Los Angeles, Southeast LA, & Long Beach concerned about the health impacts of industrial pollution. He's a community organizer working towards a safe & healthy environment for communities that are disproportionately suffering the negative impacts of industrial pollution.