Industrialized pollution is a concern that most people can relate to. We, as a group, agree that pollution is one of the main factors contributing to environmental health issues. The city of Richmond has many oil refineries that pose health risks to the community as a whole. Air, water and soil pollutions are some of the contributors to health related issues in the community. Industrial pollution in the city Richmond has affected health and quality standards of living in its community and its surrounding area.
According to the Community- based participatory researcher for environmental justice (CBPR), the pollutions and health problems are commonly found amongst low-income community of color (Cohen, Lopez, Malloy, & Morello, 2011). As a group, we believe that the problems of pollutions in low-income and colored communities are compounded by lack of community involvement and lack of knowledge about the health risks associated with the pollutions present in the community. In addition, the low socioeconomic status (SES) has given the residents of these areas less of a choice to make their community pollution free.
However, if there is proper knowledge and involvement of the people in the community, necessary steps will be taken to minimize adverse health problems such as asthma, infertility, low birth weight and many different cancers caused by pollutions. Individual stressors like poverty, restricted access to good healthcare, education and polluted work environment all play a role in the challenge of the health environment in the Richmond area. People in these communities have had lifelong exposure to dust, emission, chemically polluted lots, and indoor and outdoor toxin.
Because of community stressors like increased industrial facilities, cars, trucks, and trains constantly in the community, these health issues are bound to surface. (Cohen et. Al, 2011). With the compounding health problems due to the pollutions in the low SES neighborhoods, residents are suffering with their voices unheard by the policy makers. Method
As a group, we chose our topic based on our great concern in regards to pollution in our society today. We selected the city of Richmond as our case study since it is a highly industrialized city in the Bay Area. We gathered our information from online articles and medical journals on pollution and health related problems associated with pollutions. The study we looked at as a team showed us how race, low income, and low SES can play a role in the way people are affected by pollution in their cities.
Also, SES determines how one reacts to the related health issues in his or her neighborhood. Rosaline Kalokoh did the introduction and the method section of our case study. Megdelawit Yoseph did the literature review and the analysis section. The conclusion and PowerPoint presentation was done by both students together.
Literature Review & Analysis Literature Review Research shows the prevalence of chronic asthma in adults in Richmond (17.7%) is higher than the national average (8.7%) and California state average (7.5%) (Cohen et al., 2011). The adults who have lived in Richmond for 15 years or more are considered lifelong residents.
The prevalence of asthmas among lifelong residents is 45% compared to the 15% lifetime asthma prevalence rate in Contra Costa County as a whole (Cohen et al., 2011). Additionally, the Richmond prevalence of childhood asthma(17%) reported by survey participants is more than double the national average (7%), but close to the California state average(14.8%) (Cohen et al., 2011).
In the article, comparisons in results of asthma prevalence are made to better understand what factors affect the City of Richmond. Marin County, which is directly across the San Francisco Bay from Richmond, is a wealthier, suburban community has the lowest prevalence of childhood asthma in the state ( Cohen et al., 2011). Whereas, Los Angeles County and the Bayview/Hunters pointview neighborhood of San Francisco- two areas known for air pollution- have prevalence rates much closer to that of Richmond ( Cohen et al., 2011).
Another study shows that the levels of nickel and vanadium were amongst the highest in the state (Brody, Morello-Frosch, Zota, Brown, Perez, & Rudel, 2009). Nickel and vanadium are known to come from heavy oil combustion especially in refinery and marine shipping (Brody et al., 2009).
Sulfates, which are also associated with refineries, penetrate in Richmond homes. Health studies have shown that sulfates, nickel and vanadium are some of the most harmful components (Brody et al., 2009). “PM2.5 are particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter and are referred to as "fine" particles which are believed to pose the greatest health risk” (United States Environmental Health Agency, 2012).
Higher levels of PM2.5 from nickel, vanadium were associated with lower birth weight or increased risk of low birth weight (Bell, Belanger, Ebisu, Gent, Lee, Koutrakis, & Leaderer, 2010). Higher PM2.5 compositions of nickel, vanadium, or elemental carbon have been associated with higher cardiovascular or respiratory hospital admissions for persons 65 years and older in other cities (Bell et al., 2010).
Analysis From our gathered information, we are able to see that the health implications related to industrial pollution are serious. The fact that Richmond is an industrial city causing health damages to its community is proven through health studies done. For instance, the prevalence in adult asthma is double of the National and State average. We find this data very disturbing and we wonder what other health ailments the residents of Richmond have.
Since it’s been established that the refineries in Richmond emit nickel, vanadium and sulfates, we think one of the health implications involved would be low birth weight. We were unable to get scientific data pointing to low birth weight. From other studies, we found that Nickel, Vanadium and Sulfates are harmful substances which cause great health risks.
The prevalence in childhood asthma is double the National average but surprisingly it is almost equal to the State average. It might be because of the pollution caused by high emission from motor vehicles in urban cities. Since we didn’t have enough time, we didn’t delve into the cause of the high number of childhood asthma in our State.
Conclusion Residents in Richmond have been neglected in terms of their health for a long period of time. As health science students, one of the things we want to do is to implement change in our communities. We believe that policy makers should pay close attention to all these health issues that these Richmond residents are subjected to.
In 2010, the Chevron oil company was about to expand its facility in Richmond. However, the Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), which is one of the environmental organizations in Richmond, helped in stopping the expansion. The expansion of Chevron’s facility would have meant more environmental impact on the city of Richmond. In our opinion, what Richmond needs is more organizations like CBE that stand for the residents in the community.
References Bell, M., Belanger, K., Ebisu, K., Gent, J., Lee, H.J., Koutrakis, P., & Leaderer, B.P. (2010). Prenatal Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter and Birth Weight: Variations by ParticulateConstituents and Sources. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20811286 Brody, J.G. , Morello-Frosch, R. ,Zota, A. , Brown,P. , Perez, C. , & Rudel, R. (2009). Linking Exposure Assessment Science With Policy Objectives for Environmental Justice and Breast Cancer Advocacy: The Northern California Household Exposure Study.
Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19890164 Cohen, A., Lopez, A. ,Malloy, N. , & Morello-Frosch, R. (2011). Our Environment, Our Health: Community-Based Participatory Survey in Richmond, California. Retrieved from http://heb.sagepub.com/content/39/2/198 United states Environmental Protection Agency, 2012. What is PM2.5 ? Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/pmdesignations/faq.htm#0