Residents of the Galveston Bay/Houston Ship Channel (GB/HSC) region have excess risk of exposures to hazardous substances. Many GB/HSC communities are physically, environmentally, and socially vulnerable. An engaged community has greater resilience and is better able to anticipate future threats and prepare for and recover from adverse events. The objective of the CEC is to develop, test, and implement a set of data-driven community engagement outcomes that increase local resilience through disaster research response activities. The CEC’s work is responsive to community-based needs and grounded in exposure science and multidisciplinary environmental health research. We focus primarily on the environmental justice communities, where residents face threats from hazardous substance exposures from man-made and natural disasters. Our central hypothesis is that an engaged community has enhanced resilience to environmental threats and will recover quickly from disasters. CEC responds to Superfund Mandates #2: methods to assess the risks to human health presented by hazardous substances, and #4: basic biological, chemical, and physical methods to reduce the amount and toxicity of hazardous chemicals.
The residents of communities located along the Galveston Bay/Houston Ship Channel (GB/HSC) region have excess risk of exposure to acute pollution, emergency chemical spills and incidents, and high-impact natural disasters, such as hurricanes and flooding. Community engagement provides a link between the adaptive capacities of a community—the human, fiscal, political, and social resources that enable proactive behavior—and its responses and changes after disruptions, including natural disasters and environmental contamination events. An engaged community has greater resilience and is better able to anticipate future threats and prepare for and recover from adverse events.
- Engage community members to determine the factors that influence and can improve environmental conditions for communities to proactively plan for and manage future environmental risk related to emergency contamination events.
- Develop collaborative, participatory-based interventions aimed at reducing exposure during environmental emergencies.
- Develop and implement citizen science tools for community engagement to reduce the amount and toxicity of hazardous substances.
- Build long-term resilience in the community by creating capacity for detection, assessment, and evaluation of human health concerns from hazardous substances.