The Shrinking Salton Sea and Children’s Health
Interviewees: Shohreh Farzan, Ph.D., and Esther Bejarano
The podcast and the description below was originally published on the NIEHS PEPH website on March 16, 2022.
The Salton Sea, a 350-square mile lake situated in Imperial Valley, California, is shrinking due to changing weather patterns, drought, and increased water demands. These conditions are drying out the Salton Sea, leaving large portions of the lakebed exposed. Wind-blown dusts from the lakebed potentially contain toxic metals, pesticides, and other particulates. Those dusts could harm the health and life quality of nearby residents who are predominantly low-income Mexican Americans. Residents have expressed concern about the health impacts of exposure to dust from the Salton Sea, especially on children’s respiratory health.
In this episode, we talk to NIEHS-funded researcher Shohreh Farzan, Ph.D., and Esther Bejarano, with the community organization Comite Civico del Valle, who have teamed up to address local concerns about the possible health effects of the shrinking Salton Sea. They discuss a community-engaged research project that aims to understand how the rapid drying of the Salton Sea will impact local levels of particulate matter and affect children’s lung health. They also highlight how their community-based approach educates and empowers residents to address local environmental health issues.
Click here to listen to the podcast and explore more associated resources around the research our USC team has done around the Salton Sea.