Houston and Harris County, TX
Addressing inequities in air quality and their resulting health effects through neighborhood-level air monitoring and advocacy.
In several Houston-area neighborhoods, residents experience exceptionally poor air quality because of their proximity to large oil and gas polluters, backyard polluters, major highways, or all the above. These residents, many of whom are people of color, have lower average life expectancies and face higher risks of poor health outcomes compared with [people across the state? national averages?]. These disproportionate impacts are a product of historical redlining and other ongoing discriminatory policies that have relegated people of color to neighborhoods close to major polluters and allowed these facilities to operate and expand. To combat this, Air Alliance Houston (AAH) plans to use its existing network of air monitors in five neighborhoods shaped by structural racism—Galena Park/Jacinto City, Gulfton, Kashmere Gardens, Pasadena, and Near Northside—to explore air quality trends and identify residents’ preferred policy and practice changes.
AAH will attain air quality data from more than 30 monitors in its network, all of which are hosted by residents or community groups. Monitor hosts can also serve as air quality ambassadors, or compensated spokespeople for the project. AAH will display the air quality data in real time on an online consolidated dashboard, which residents will be trained to read and interpret. To determine any necessary policy or practice changes from these findings, AAH will convene action planning sessions in each focus neighborhood. The sessions will identify pollution sources and solutions, additional data questions, and specific strategies and tactics that AAH and residents can use to drive change. AAH will supplement these action plans with community canvasses intended to gather information about broader community perceptions of air quality issues, as well as meetings with facilities and elected officials.
The residents who live and spend time in these five targeted neighborhoods and face direct exposure to air pollution are the main audience for this project. They will benefit from the opportunity to glean community-level information on air quality and use the data to advocate for air pollution reduction policies and practices.