- Natalie Johnson, PhD
- Ping Ma, PhD
- Jim Schermbeck
Research Project Description
Low-income, predominantly minority communities are particularly vulnerable to the adverse health effects of air pollution. The former Freedman's community of Joppa in Southern Dallas is such a community. Bordered on its East by the Trinity River, Joppa is surrounded on its other three sides by a variety of large and small air polluters who produce a voluminous amount of Particulate Matter (PM) air pollution. Per capita, no other Dallas neighborhood suffers from a higher pollution burden. Joppa residents' limited access to health care and public services exacerbate the impact of their exposure to these environmental hazards. Layers of historical interlocking inequities produce wider and more adverse disparities in public health outcomes. But those inequities have never been documented in Joppa and they've never been reflected in public policy benefiting the neighborhood.
Our project combines the first permanent real time air monitoring in Joppa with a mixed-methods study, including qualitative interviews with stakeholders and a community health survey. Specifically, we'll be examining:
- the collective and individual air pollution exposure risks to Joppa residents as measured by the hyperlocal monitors;
- community perceptions and concerns about air pollution;
- individual and community health indicators linked to exposure to PM air pollution and other pollutants emitted by Joppa industries;
- residents' preferred solutions to improve air quality in their community and how those are expressed in a new neighborhood plan being submitted to the City of Dallas.
We'll be hosting community events and providing culturally appropriate training for community leaders and environment equity advocates to produce productive, targeted, continuous community outreach and engagement. Our goal is to provide the first in-depth examination and documentation of the accumulated harms of environmental racism in urban Texas, and community-generated paths for its possible elimination.
Natalie Johnson, PhD
Dr. Natalie Johnson is a native Texan from the town of Navasota. She is an Associate Professor in the Texas A&M University School of Public Health. Her research focuses on health effects of air pollution, particularly on maternal and childhood immune and respiratory dysfunction, including asthma and respiratory infection. Her research team works with communities to measure exposure and experimental models to understand pollutant-induced signaling pathways as targets for prevention.
Ping Ma, PhD
Dr. Ping Ma is an Assistant Professor of Health Promotion and Community Health Sciences, Texas A&M University School of Public Health. Her research has focused on examining the impacts of multi-level (e.g., individual, community, behavioral) determinants on health and reducing health disparities among minority populations. Additionally, she is interested in the development of health risk behavior intervention and evaluation for vulnerable populations and resource-poor communities.
Jim Schermbeck is a Fort Worth native and Director of Downwinders at Risk, a 26-year old clean air and environmental justice group based in DFW. Schermbeck has overseen grassroots campaigns that eliminated the burning of hazardous waste in local cement plants, closed an outlaw lead smelter, and passed a de facto ban on gas drilling in Dallas. Since 2017 he and Downwinders have focused on identifying and reducing Particulate Matter air pollution, which disproportionally harms People of Color.