The South Bronx is a low-income, minority community in New York City.
It has one of the highest asthma rates in the country, which residents feel
is one of the most pressing health issues in their community. The main goal
of the South Bronx Environmental Health and Policy Study is to study environmental
and health issues affecting this community, with particular emphasis on the
relationships between air quality, transportation, waste transfer activity,
demographic characteristics, and public health. It is a collaborative research
project that involves the NYU School of Medicine’s Nelson Institute of Environmental
Medicine (NIEM), the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service’s Institute
for Civil Infrastructure Systems (ICIS), and four community groups: The Point
Community Development Corporation, We Stay/Nos Quedamos, Sports Foundation
Inc., and Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice Inc.
Phase I report: A comprehensive report of Phase I of the project
was completed in September, 2002. During that phase of the project, data
was gathered and analyzed on the demographic characteristics of the study
area, transportation, waste transfer activity, ambient air quality, and water
quality. In addition, the report includes a review of the literature on the
association between asthma and air pollution. This report is available on-line.
Click here* to view the file.
Transportation and air quality modeling: The transportation and air quality modeling component of the project will provide estimates of traffic volumes and air pollutant emissions associated with that traffic. This information will be used to estimate the impact of waste transfer activity on traffic and air quality by carrying out a few scenario analyses that describe the impact of changing the location, size and number of waste transfer stations in the study area. Such scenario evaluations could be used as inputs for waste management policy in Bronx County.
Environmental justice analysis: This section of the project will compare data on socio-economic characteristics, air quality and waste transfer, and asthma rates in the study area with that of other areas in New York City. The main goal of this comparison is to identify issues of equity that may exist with respect to waste transfer and its environmental and health effects.
Uncertainty and risk analysis: This effort will examine both variability and uncertainty in the process of developing and applying particulate matter (PM) standards, and will develop a means of communicating this to residents in the study area in order to help them better understand how these concepts are used in the public policy process.
Decision Tools: Environmental Management Plan, GIS, Air Quality and Health: This part of the project will consist of identifying, developing, and adapting a set of decision tools to allow the community to leverage this data for policy making efforts. Outcomes will include an Environmental Planning Framework, a Specific Decision Tool package, and a GIS study of the association between air pollution, waste transfer, and morbidity rates of diseases related to air pollution in the South Bronx as compared to other sites in the New York City region. The Environmental Planning Framework will utilize collected data, current conditions, and GIS technology, for ready use by the community in environmental justice advocacy. It will also include updated databases, including new information on water quality and brownfields, in a form that is compatible for community access.
Youth Participation and Leadership Program: The objective
of the Youth Participation and Leadership Program is to involve high-school
students from the area in the project by training them in environmental science,
policy and health and by offering them a chance to work directly with scientists
and policy experts in these areas. The students will help to disseminate the
findings of the project to other community leaders and residents. In addition,
the youth participants will gain an opportunity to explore career opportunities
within the fields of public health and environmental science. ICIS is presently
collaborating with the other team members of the South Bronx Environmental
Health and Policy study to implement this program three times a year. Each
program is designed to last 8 weeks and will accommodate 12-15 students from
high schools throughout the study area. A six- week pilot program with 8
students was held in October-November, 2003.