Environmental justice education and atmospheric particulate analysis in urban environmental health policy development : indoor airborne particulate concentrations in preschools of asthmatic children in Newark
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Science - (Ph.D.)
Chemistry and Environmental Science
Joseph W. Bozzelli
Joseph T. Ponessa
Analysis suggests that several residential areas in Newark, New Jersey (USA) have Black/African-American and Hispanic populations, which may be "at high risk" with respect to the adverse health effects of particulate air pollution. This study analyzes the community locations and evaluates literature and other available air pollution data for the target communities in the city of Newark. The study focuses on asthma or reactive airway diseases as a target health risk. It also performs data collection on particulate pollutants and levels of trace metals in particulate matter in target communities and schools of preschool children in two of the five Wards of Newark. In addition to the environmental issues, the analysis includes social issues related to the preschool communities-at-large. The data is used (data-driven approach) for environmental health policy recommendations, development and implementation of pollution abatement in the preschools.
The specific target communities are identified as the East and the South Wards because preliminary demographic research has shown that the East and South Wards of Newark are two old, densely populated communities of over 56,000 people each. And, the majority of this Newark population consists of Black/African-Americans, Hispanics, Portuguese, and low-income families who are experiencing the highest cumulative pollution burdens and environmental respiratory health risks in the State of New Jersey.
Data obtained and summarized include: historical literature on the inhalation toxicological effects of particulate matter (PM) on children, parent-reported histories and statistics on asthmatic preschool children, analysis for indoor levels of total airborne PM and selected trace metals in the particles. Moderate to low volume air particulate samplers were used for two sampling campaigns in the winter and spring months. Data results from microwave acid digestion and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry analysis of the filtered-collected PM10 samples determined that significant levels of some hazardous air pollutants were present in the indoor air of the pre-school classroom. Metal particulate species specifically analyzed included: zinc, lead, manganese, vanadium, and nickel, which are shown to significantly contribute to poor indoor air quality; and be associated with adverse health effects of asthmatic children.
Presentation of data to the preschool community has provided an urban environmental-health awareness regarding asthma triggers; and has identified a policy that creates an asthma-friendly preschool environment in the East and South Ward communities. The pre-school administrators have been made aware of the research study during Urban Environmental Health Fairs; and therefore, as part of a school intervention program, they have agreed to a policy on installation of air cleaners in classrooms where significant numbers of asthmatic children are in attendance. Their actions have created model environmental health policies for the indoor environment of urban children, and discussed an indoor air quality "Tools for Schools" Program.
The incorporation of an environmental science data analysis and evaluation along with social justice issues has resulted in an accepted community pre-school urban air pollution abatement model based on an environmental justice framework.
Thornton, Rita L., "Environmental justice education and atmospheric particulate analysis in urban environmental health policy development : indoor airborne particulate concentrations in preschools of asthmatic children in Newark" (2006). Dissertations. 756.