Washington Environmental Justice Symposium

I had an opportunity speak as a panelist on air quality environmental justice for the Mar 23, 2021 “Environmental Justice: Race, Poverty, and the Environment – Exploring environmental justice issues impacting Washington State communities and possible solution” hosted by Gonzaga University and the WA Attorney General’s Office.

The point of my talk was that air pollution is just one of the many factors that cumulatively impacts the environmental health of individuals and communities. Thinking only of air pollution (sources, emissions, concentrations, exposures) and its health effects misses the bigger environmental justice picture, which is that some of the same communities impacted by poor air pollution are also impacted poor water, soil, food, built environment, etc. quality, are more vulnerable to the exposures to environmental pollutants and their resulting health consequences because of social factors. Also, I briefly mentioned the importance of understand history and structural factors (racism, residential segregation, environmential policies) that have resulted in environmental justice issues.

I provided some examples of Tacoma vs Yakima County air quality issues using the Washington Environmental Health Disparities Map that we helped develop. The map incorporates the cumulative impacts thinking that I spoke about, but also allows for deep dives into specific indicators of environmental exposures and environmental quality for communities across the state.

I couldn’t go into details with only 7 minutes to speak, but I’m so glad that the other presenters on the panel could speak to specific environmental justice challenges and opportunities for tribal groups, the Duwamish River Valley community, and the Puget Sound air basin.

Here are my slides.