Environmental conditions

North Charleston, SC
United States

Lowcountry Alliance for Model Communities Medical University of South Carolina 

Training residents in community research and citizen science to develop a database of quantifiable harms from air pollution to motivate advocacy. 

As a new port terminal in Charleston County, South Carolina, brings increased air pollution to nearby communities, it has become vital to document the harms of this pollution. The Charleston Community Research to Action Board (CCRAB) has been gathering evidence to support community claims of poor air quality; however, the harms and health impacts of this air quality on near-port communities have yet to be quantified. CCRAB aims to support the predominately Black and low-income residents in these communities—who experience disproportionate harms from port and highway activity—by documenting and quantifying the impact of air pollution on their health. CCRAB will partner with Lowcountry Alliance for Model Communities and the Medical University of South Carolina on this project. 

CCRAB will facilitate the creation of a community-designed survey to better understand air pollution and its effects on residents. CCRAB will train community members on survey design and data collection, and work with pairs of community members to field the resident survey. CCRAB will analyze the data with feedback from the community through a series of workshops and community meetings, and then use the findings to design a prototype for a community-level reporting system for air-quality-related health problems. The findings will be shared in a “Black Paper” at community meetings and with public officials and used in community-led advocacy efforts.  

With the data that CCRAB collects, near-port communities will be better positioned to advocate for cleaner air in their regions. They will also be able to point to the health disparities experienced by residents that are related to this pollution and propose solutions to address these issues and residents’ identified priorities. Lastly, this community data project can serve as an example to other environmental justice communities who want to conduct community-led research and quantify public health impacts.