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Topical Collection "Environmental Justice Research: Contemporary Issues and Emerging Topics"

Editors

Collection Editor
Dr. Jayajit Chakraborty

Department of Sociology and Anthropology, The University of Texas at El Paso, 500 West University Avenue, El Paso, TX 79968, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: environmental justice; environmental health; environmental hazards/disasters; social vulnerability; racial/ethnic disparities; GIScience, spatial analysis
Collection Editor
Prof. Dr. Sara E. Grineski

Department of Sociology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: environmental health disparities; environmental justice; Hispanic health; children’s health
Collection Editor
Dr. Timothy W. Collins

Department of Geography, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: environmental hazards/disasters; social vulnerability; environmental justice; Hispanic health

Topical Collection Information

Dear Colleagues,

Environmental Justice (EJ) research seeks to document and address the disproportionate environmental health and risk burdens associated with multiple dimensions of social inequality. Although its initial focus was on anthropogenic pollution, the scope of EJ research has expanded to encompass other issues, such as resource depletion, energy use, consumption patterns, food systems, climate change, and government policies, which adversely affect the environment and health of particular social groups. Dimensions of social inequality examined have expanded beyond race and socioeconomic status to include ethnicity, immigration status, gender, and age. In a context of intensifying social inequalities, there is a growing need to further strengthen the EJ research framework and continue diversifying its themes.

This Topical Collection provides a forum for conceptual, methodological, and empirical scholarship on EJ. We welcome original research articles, literature reviews, critical evaluations of methodologies, and discussions of future research needs that focus on any aspect of EJ. Paper topics may include, but are not limited to, the following issues: anthropogenic hazards (e.g., air pollution); natural disasters (e.g., flooding); environmental health outcomes (e.g., cancer, respiratory illnesses); environmental amenities (e.g., parks, greenspace); environmental policies; climate change; food and agriculture; mining and resource extraction; water pollution and scarcity; and transportation.

Dr. Jayajit Chakraborty
Dr. Sara E. Grineski
Dr. Timothy W. Collins
Collection Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the collection website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (12 papers)

2018

Jump to: 2017

Open AccessArticle
Linking Industrial Hazards and Social Inequalities: Environmental Injustice in Gujarat, India
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(1), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16010042
Received: 28 November 2018 / Revised: 19 December 2018 / Accepted: 21 December 2018 / Published: 25 December 2018
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Abstract
Industrial development in India has rarely been studied through the perspective of environmental justice (EJ) such that the association between industrial development and significant economic and social inequalities remains to be examined. Our article addresses this gap by focusing on Gujarat in western [...] Read more.
Industrial development in India has rarely been studied through the perspective of environmental justice (EJ) such that the association between industrial development and significant economic and social inequalities remains to be examined. Our article addresses this gap by focusing on Gujarat in western India, a leading industrial state that exemplifies the designation of India as an “emerging economy.” We link the geographic concentration of industrial facilities classified as major accident hazard (MAH) units, further subdivided by size (large or medium/small) and ownership (public or private), to the socio-demographic composition of the population at the subdistrict (taluka) level. Generalized estimating equations (GEEs) are used to analyze statistical associations between MAH unit density and explanatory variables related to the economic and social status of the residential population at the subdistrict level. Our results indicate a significant relationship between presence of socially disadvantaged populations (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) and density of all types of MAH units, except those associated with the public sector. Higher urbanization and lower home ownership are also found to be strong predictors of MAH unit density. Overall, our article represents an important step towards understanding the complexities of environmental inequalities stemming from Gujarat’s industrial economy. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Brownfields to Greenfields: Environmental Justice Versus Environmental Gentrification
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(10), 2233; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15102233
Received: 1 September 2018 / Revised: 1 October 2018 / Accepted: 9 October 2018 / Published: 12 October 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (7160 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Gentrification is a growing concern in many urban areas, due to the potential for displacement of lower-income and other vulnerable populations. This process can be accelerated when neighborhood “greening” projects are undertaken via governmental or private investor efforts, resulting in a phenomenon termed [...] Read more.
Gentrification is a growing concern in many urban areas, due to the potential for displacement of lower-income and other vulnerable populations. This process can be accelerated when neighborhood “greening” projects are undertaken via governmental or private investor efforts, resulting in a phenomenon termed environmental or “green” gentrification. Vacant land in lower-income areas is often improved by the existing community through the creation of community gardens, but this contributes to these greening efforts and paradoxically may spur gentrification and subsequent displacement of the gardens’ stewards and neighbors. “Is proximity to community gardens in less affluent neighborhoods associated with an increased likelihood of gentrification?” Using Brooklyn, New York as a case study, we examined this question using Geographic Information Systems and two spatial methods: a census block group proximity analysis, and a hot spot analysis, to determine the potential impact of proximity to community gardens in lower-income areas. The results of the analyses suggest that proximity to community gardens is associated with significant increases in per capita income over the five years study period, which is indicative of areas undergoing gentrification. This has implications for environmental justice because existing lower-income residents are likely to be displaced after their community is improved environmentally. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Mapping the Hidden Hazards: Community-Led Spatial Data Collection of Street-Level Environmental Stressors in a Degraded, Urban Watershed
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(4), 825; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15040825
Received: 1 January 2018 / Revised: 11 April 2018 / Accepted: 13 April 2018 / Published: 22 April 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (11875 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
We utilized a participatory mapping approach to collect point locations, photographs, and descriptive data about select built environment stressors identified and prioritized by community residents living in the Proctor Creek Watershed, a degraded, urban watershed in Northwest Atlanta, Georgia. Residents (watershed researchers) used [...] Read more.
We utilized a participatory mapping approach to collect point locations, photographs, and descriptive data about select built environment stressors identified and prioritized by community residents living in the Proctor Creek Watershed, a degraded, urban watershed in Northwest Atlanta, Georgia. Residents (watershed researchers) used an indicator identification framework to select three watershed stressors that influence urban livability: standing water, illegal dumping on land and in surface water, and faulty stormwater infrastructure. Through a community–university partnership and using Geographic Information Systems and digital mapping tools, watershed researchers and university students designed a mobile application (app) that enabled them to collect data associated with these stressors to create a spatial narrative, informed by local community knowledge, that offers visual documentation and representation of community conditions that negatively influence the environment, health, and quality of life in urban areas. By elevating the local knowledge and lived experience of community residents and codeveloping a relevant data collection tool, community residents generated fine-grained, street-level, actionable data. This process helped to fill gaps in publicly available datasets about environmental hazards in their watershed and helped residents initiate solution-oriented dialogue with government officials to address problem areas. We demonstrate that community-based knowledge can contribute to and extend scientific inquiry, as well as help communities to advance environmental justice and leverage opportunities for remediation and policy change. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Reconsidering the Relationship between Air Pollution and Deprivation
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(4), 629; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15040629
Received: 16 February 2018 / Revised: 17 March 2018 / Accepted: 27 March 2018 / Published: 29 March 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (18812 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
This paper critically examines the relationship between air pollution and deprivation. We argue that focusing on a particular economic or social model of urban development might lead one to erroneously expect all cities to converge towards a particular universal norm. A naive market [...] Read more.
This paper critically examines the relationship between air pollution and deprivation. We argue that focusing on a particular economic or social model of urban development might lead one to erroneously expect all cities to converge towards a particular universal norm. A naive market sorting model, for example, would predict that poor households will eventually be sorted into high pollution areas, leading to a positive relationship between air pollution and deprivation. If, however, one considers a wider set of theoretical perspectives, the anticipated relationship between air pollution and deprivation becomes more complex and idiosyncratic. Specifically, we argue the relationship between pollution and deprivation can only be made sense of by considering processes of risk perception, path dependency, gentrification and urbanization. Rather than expecting all areas to eventually converge to some universal norm, we should expect the differences in the relationship between air pollution and deprivation across localities to persist. Mindful of these insights, we propose an approach to modeling which does not impose a geographically fixed relationship. Results for Scotland reveal substantial variations in the observed relationships over space and time, supporting our argument. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Community-Based Health and Exposure Study around Urban Oil Developments in South Los Angeles
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(1), 138; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15010138
Received: 7 November 2017 / Revised: 9 December 2017 / Accepted: 11 December 2017 / Published: 15 January 2018
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (2325 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Oilfield-adjacent communities often report symptoms such as headaches and/or asthma. Yet, little data exists on health experiences and exposures in urban environments with oil and gas development. In partnership with Promotoras de Salud (community health workers), we gathered household surveys nearby two oil [...] Read more.
Oilfield-adjacent communities often report symptoms such as headaches and/or asthma. Yet, little data exists on health experiences and exposures in urban environments with oil and gas development. In partnership with Promotoras de Salud (community health workers), we gathered household surveys nearby two oil production sites in Los Angeles. We tested the capacity of low-cost sensors for localized exposure estimates. Bilingual surveys of 205 randomly sampled residences were collected within two 1500 ft. buffer areas (West Adams and University Park) surrounding oil development sites. We used a one-sample proportion test, comparing overall rates from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) of Service Planning Area 6 (SPA6) and Los Angeles County for variables of interest such as asthma. Field calibrated low-cost sensors recorded methane emissions. Physician diagnosed asthma rates were reported to be higher within both buffers than in SPA6 or LA County. Asthma prevalence in West Adams but not University Park was significantly higher than in Los Angeles County. Respondents with diagnosed asthma reported rates of emergency room visits in the previous 12 months similar to SPA6. 45% of respondents were unaware of oil development; 63% of residents would not know how to contact local regulatory authorities. Residents often seek information about their health and site-related activities. Low-cost sensors may be useful in highlighting differences between sites or recording larger emission events and can provide localized data alongside resident-reported symptoms. Regulatory officials should help clarify information to the community on methods for reporting health symptoms. Our community-based participatory research (CBPR) partnership supports efforts to answer community questions as residents seek a safety buffer between sensitive land uses and active oil development. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Residual Inequity: Assessing the Unintended Consequences of New York City’s Clean Heat Transition
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(1), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15010117
Received: 22 November 2017 / Revised: 18 December 2017 / Accepted: 9 January 2018 / Published: 11 January 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2445 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Energy policies and public health are intimately intertwined. In New York City, a series of policies, known as the Clean Heat Program (CHP), were designed to reduce air pollution by banning residual diesel fuel oils, #6 in 2015 and #4 by 2030. This [...] Read more.
Energy policies and public health are intimately intertwined. In New York City, a series of policies, known as the Clean Heat Program (CHP), were designed to reduce air pollution by banning residual diesel fuel oils, #6 in 2015 and #4 by 2030. This measure is expected to yield environmental and public health benefits over time. While there is near-universal compliance with the #6 ban, a substantial number of buildings still use #4. In this paper, geographic analysis and qualitative interviews with stakeholders were used to interrogate the CHP’s policy implementation in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx. A total of 1724 (53%) of all residential residual fuel burning buildings are located in this region. Stakeholders reflected mostly on the need for the program, and overall reactions to its execution. Major findings include that government partnerships with non-governmental organizations were effectively employed. However, weaknesses with the policy were also identified, including missed opportunities for more rapid transitions away from residual fuels, unsuccessful outreach efforts, cost-prohibitive conversion opportunities, and (the perception of) a volatile energy market for clean fuels. Ultimately, this analysis serves as a case study of a unique and innovative urban policy initiative to improve air quality and, consequently, public health. Full article
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2017

Jump to: 2018

Open AccessCommentary
Urban Green Space and the Pursuit of Health Equity in Parts of the United States
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(11), 1432; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14111432
Received: 29 September 2017 / Revised: 13 November 2017 / Accepted: 16 November 2017 / Published: 22 November 2017
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (438 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Research has demonstrated that inequitable access to green space can relate to health disparities or inequalities. This commentary aims to shift the dialogue to initiatives that have integrated green spaces in projects that may promote health equity in the United States. Specifically, we [...] Read more.
Research has demonstrated that inequitable access to green space can relate to health disparities or inequalities. This commentary aims to shift the dialogue to initiatives that have integrated green spaces in projects that may promote health equity in the United States. Specifically, we connect this topic to factors such as community revitalization, affordable housing, neighborhood walkability, food security, job creation, and youth engagement. We provide a synopsis of locations and initiatives in different phases of development along with characteristics to support effectiveness and strategies to overcome challenges. The projects cover locations such as Atlanta (GA), Los Angeles (CA), the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.), South Bronx (NY), and Utica (NY). Such insight can develop our understanding of green space projects that support health equity and inform the dialogue on this topic in ways that advance research and advocacy. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Multi-Contextual Segregation and Environmental Justice Research: Toward Fine-Scale Spatiotemporal Approaches
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(10), 1205; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14101205
Received: 30 August 2017 / Revised: 28 September 2017 / Accepted: 4 October 2017 / Published: 10 October 2017
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (784 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Many environmental justice studies have sought to examine the effect of residential segregation on unequal exposure to environmental factors among different social groups, but little is known about how segregation in non-residential contexts affects such disparity. Based on a review of the relevant [...] Read more.
Many environmental justice studies have sought to examine the effect of residential segregation on unequal exposure to environmental factors among different social groups, but little is known about how segregation in non-residential contexts affects such disparity. Based on a review of the relevant literature, this paper discusses the limitations of traditional residence-based approaches in examining the association between socioeconomic or racial/ethnic segregation and unequal environmental exposure in environmental justice research. It emphasizes that future research needs to go beyond residential segregation by considering the full spectrum of segregation experienced by people in various geographic and temporal contexts of everyday life. Along with this comprehensive understanding of segregation, the paper also highlights the importance of assessing environmental exposure at a high spatiotemporal resolution in environmental justice research. The successful integration of a comprehensive concept of segregation, high-resolution data and fine-grained spatiotemporal approaches to assessing segregation and environmental exposure would provide more nuanced and robust findings on the associations between segregation and disparities in environmental exposure and their health impacts. Moreover, it would also contribute to significantly expanding the scope of environmental justice research. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Understanding the Challenges of Improving Sanitation and Hygiene Outcomes in a Community Based Intervention: A Cross-Sectional Study in Rural Tanzania
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(6), 602; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14060602
Received: 7 March 2017 / Revised: 23 May 2017 / Accepted: 24 May 2017 / Published: 5 June 2017
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (961 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Good sanitation and clean water are basic human rights yet they remain elusive to many rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). We carried out a cross sectional study to examine the impact of a four-year intervention aimed at improving access to water and [...] Read more.
Good sanitation and clean water are basic human rights yet they remain elusive to many rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). We carried out a cross sectional study to examine the impact of a four-year intervention aimed at improving access to water and sanitation and reducing waterborne disease, especially diarrhea in children under five years old. The study was carried out in April and May 2015 in Busangi, Chela and Ntobo wards of Kahama District of Tanzania. The interventions included education campaigns and improved water supply, and sanitation. The percentage of households (HHs) with access to water within 30 min increased from 19.2 to 48.9 and 17.6 to 27.3 in the wet and dry seasons, respectively. The percentage of HHs with hand washing facilities at the latrine increased from 0% to 13.2%. However, the incidence of diarrhea among children under five years increased over the intervention period, RR 2.91 95% CI 2.71–3.11, p < 0.0001. Availability of water alone may not influence the incidence of waterborne diseases. Factors such as water storage and usage, safe excreta disposal and other hygiene practices are critical for interventions negating the spread of water borne diseases. A model that articulates the extent to which these factors are helpful for such interventions should be explored. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Cumulative Risk Assessment in the Lorraine Region: A Framework to Characterize Environmental Health Inequalities
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(3), 291; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14030291
Received: 2 December 2016 / Revised: 23 February 2017 / Accepted: 8 March 2017 / Published: 10 March 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (3343 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The study explores spatial data processing methods and the associated impact on the characterization and quantification of a combined health risk indicator at a regional scale and at fine resolution. To illustrate the methodology of combining multiple publicly available data sources, we present [...] Read more.
The study explores spatial data processing methods and the associated impact on the characterization and quantification of a combined health risk indicator at a regional scale and at fine resolution. To illustrate the methodology of combining multiple publicly available data sources, we present a case study of the Lorraine region (France), where regional stakeholders were involved in the global procedures for data collection and organization. Different indicators are developed by combining technical approaches for assessing and characterizing human health exposure to chemical substances (in soil, air and water) and noise risk factors. The results permit identification of pollutant sources, determinants of exposure, and potential hotspot areas. A test of the model’s assumptions to changes in sub-indicator spatial distribution showed the impact of data transformation on identifying more impacted areas. Cumulative risk assessment permits the combination of quantitative and qualitative evaluation of health risks by including stakeholders in the decision process, helping to define a subjective conceptual analysis framework or assumptions when uncertainties or knowledge gaps operate. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of Particulate Matter Exposure and Surrounding “Greenness” on Chronic Absenteeism in Massachusetts Public Schools
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(2), 207; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14020207
Received: 11 January 2017 / Revised: 8 February 2017 / Accepted: 13 February 2017 / Published: 20 February 2017
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (1308 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Chronic absenteeism is associated with poorer academic performance and higher attrition in kindergarten to 12th grade (K-12) schools. In prior research, students who were chronically absent generally had fewer employment opportunities and worse health after graduation. We examined the impact that environmental factors [...] Read more.
Chronic absenteeism is associated with poorer academic performance and higher attrition in kindergarten to 12th grade (K-12) schools. In prior research, students who were chronically absent generally had fewer employment opportunities and worse health after graduation. We examined the impact that environmental factors surrounding schools have on chronic absenteeism. We estimated the greenness (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)) and fine particulate matter air pollution (PM2.5) within 250 m and 1000 m respectively of each public school in Massachusetts during the 2012–2013 academic year using satellite-based data. We modeled chronic absenteeism rates in the same year as a function of PM2.5 and NDVI, controlling for race and household income. Among the 1772 public schools in Massachusetts, a 0.15 increase in NDVI during the academic year was associated with a 2.6% (p value < 0.0001) reduction in chronic absenteeism rates, and a 1 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 during the academic year was associated with a 1.58% (p value < 0.0001) increase in chronic absenteeism rates. Based on these percentage changes in chronic absenteeism, a 0.15 increase in NDVI and 1 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 correspond to 25,837 fewer students and 15,852 more students chronically absent each year in Massachusetts respectively. These environmental impacts on absenteeism reinforce the need to protect green spaces and reduce air pollution around schools. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Racial Differences in Perceptions of Air Pollution Health Risk: Does Environmental Exposure Matter?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(2), 116; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14020116
Received: 2 December 2016 / Revised: 14 January 2017 / Accepted: 18 January 2017 / Published: 25 January 2017
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (1063 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article extends environmental risk perception research by exploring how potential health risk from exposure to industrial and vehicular air pollutants, as well as other contextual and socio-demographic factors, influence racial/ethnic differences in air pollution health risk perception. Our study site is the [...] Read more.
This article extends environmental risk perception research by exploring how potential health risk from exposure to industrial and vehicular air pollutants, as well as other contextual and socio-demographic factors, influence racial/ethnic differences in air pollution health risk perception. Our study site is the Greater Houston metropolitan area, Texas, USA—a racially/ethnically diverse area facing high levels of exposure to pollutants from both industrial and transportation sources. We integrate primary household-level survey data with estimates of excess cancer risk from ambient exposure to industrial and on-road mobile source emissions of air toxics obtained from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Statistical analysis is based on multivariate generalized estimation equation models which account for geographic clustering of surveyed households. Our results reveal significantly higher risk perceptions for non-Hispanic Black residents and those exposed to greater cancer risk from industrial pollutants, and also indicate that gender influences the relationship between race/ethnicity and air pollution risk perception. These findings highlight the need to incorporate measures of environmental health risk exposure in future analysis of social disparities in risk perception. Full article
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