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“Freedom to Breathe”: Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) to Investigate Air Pollution Inequities in Richmond, CA

1
Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health (CERCH), School of Public Health, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94704, USA
2
Department of Environmental and Global Health, College of Public Health and Health Professions, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32603, USA
3
RYSE Youth Justice Center, Richmond, CA 94805, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(2), 554; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020554
Received: 28 October 2020 / Revised: 19 December 2020 / Accepted: 21 December 2020 / Published: 11 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Environmental Health)
Air pollution is a major contributor to human morbidity and mortality, potentially exacerbated by COVID-19, and a threat to planetary health. Participatory research, with a structural violence framework, illuminates exposure inequities and refines mitigation strategies. Home to profitable oil and shipping industries, several census tracts in Richmond, CA are among the most heavily impacted by aggregate burdens statewide. Formally trained researchers from the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health (CERCH) partnered with the RYSE youth justice center to conduct youth participatory action research on air quality justice. Staff engaged five youth researchers in: (1) collaborative research using a network of passive air monitors to quantify neighborhood disparities in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), noise pollution and community risk factors; (2) training in environmental health literacy and professional development; and (3) interpretation of findings, community outreach and advocacy. Inequities in ambient NO2, but not SO2, were observed. Census tracts with higher Black populations had the highest NO2. Proximity to railroads and major roadways were associated with higher NO2. Greenspace was associated with lower NO2, suggesting investment may be conducive to improved air quality, among many additional benefits. Youth improved in measures of empowerment, and advanced community education via workshops, Photovoice, video, and ”zines”. View Full-Text
Keywords: youth empowerment; air pollution; inequity; structural violence youth empowerment; air pollution; inequity; structural violence
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MDPI and ACS Style

Nolan, J.E.S.; Coker, E.S.; Ward, B.R.; Williamson, Y.A.; Harley, K.G. “Freedom to Breathe”: Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) to Investigate Air Pollution Inequities in Richmond, CA. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 554. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020554

AMA Style

Nolan JES, Coker ES, Ward BR, Williamson YA, Harley KG. “Freedom to Breathe”: Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) to Investigate Air Pollution Inequities in Richmond, CA. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(2):554. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020554

Chicago/Turabian Style

Nolan, James E.S.; Coker, Eric S.; Ward, Bailey R.; Williamson, Yahna A.; Harley, Kim G. 2021. "“Freedom to Breathe”: Youth Participatory Action Research (YPAR) to Investigate Air Pollution Inequities in Richmond, CA" Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 18, no. 2: 554. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020554

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