Health effects of airborne particulate matter near the Salton Sea: A Community-based exploratory project in the Imperial Valley, CA. The Salton Sea is a man-made, saline lake, located in southeastern California, in the Imperial and Coachella valleys. As a result of climate change, drought, agricultural practices, rural-urban water transfers, the Salton Sea is a polluted and shrinking lake. Communities are concerned about high rates of asthma and the potential role of the Salton Sea as a source of air pollution, both from hydrogen sulfide from the lake bed, and airborne dust and toxic particulate matter, and other health hazards stemming from the lake’s deteriorating water quality and increasingly exposed banks. For this project, Dr. Pinkerton and his team are investigating how particulate matter (ambient PM2.5 and PM10) might sensitize the immune system to house dust mite (HDM) allergen. In particular, the researchers are interested in understanding the role of inflammation, oxidative stress and other pathways of PM-mediated immunotoxicity in the Imperial Valley. The team is working in collaboration with The Environmental Justice Coalition for Water (EJCW) and Comité Cívico del Valle (CCV), and the communities of of Brawley and Calipatria.
The first ever UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences (EHS) Academy Day on March 21 brought together multi-disciplinary researchers and community-based organizations to discuss concerns about environmental health impacts, specifically those centered on water safety and contamination issues in the Central Valley. Academy Day provided attendees with opportunities for mutual learning and information sharing. The aim was to get individuals thinking about how scientists and communities can work together to solve environmental problems and translate science into action and policy.
Building effective, equitable, and sustainable university-community partnerships is essential to the success of environmental health science research. Yet, researchers and community advocates often do not have the capacity to build and maintain these partnerships. Without effective training academic and community stakeholders may miss important opportunities for bi-directional learning, potentially reproduce disparities between universities and communities, particularly in partnerships with historically under-served communities. Strengthening the capacity of academic and community partners engaged with environmental justice efforts to work together is central to the development of effective and equitable partnerships to address pressing environmental health issues. The UC Davis Environmental Health Science Center and the Michigan Lifestage Environmental Exposure and Disease Center in Ann Arbor will collaborate to develop a curriculum for an Environmental Justice and Health Equity Academy. The project objective is to provide a new resource to strengthen capacity among environmental health centers across the country to foster meaningful multidirectional collaboration between researchers, community residents, administrative and legislative decision makers. The project aims to develop a community of practice (COP) that assures community experience and expertise informs scientific research, and assures dissemination of environmental health science to address community concerns. The team will also develop several modules –based on community priorities– and refine the curriculum based