USC Environmental Health Centers

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NEW FINDINGS: CASPER Neighborhood Environmental Health Project

USC Environmental Health

Environmental justice (EJ) communities in Los Angeles (LA) are disproportionately burdened by pollution sources including major freeways, truck traffic, refineries, ports, railyards, smelters, industrial operations, and Superfund sites. There are several regulatory policies aimed at reducing pollution in these communities but few metrics of whether they effectively address the environmental and health concerns of residents.

The Community Air Protection Project, a coalition led by Coalition for Clean Air,  Del Amo Action Committee (DAAC), Pacoima Beautiful (PB), Comité Pro Uno (CPU), and the Coalition for a Safe Environment (CFASE), and supported by the LA County Department of Public Health and USC’s EJ Research Lab, worked together to develop household-level surveys tailored to four EJ communities in LA. These surveys asked residents about their environmental and health concerns. Across a total of 818 interviews, representing over 90,000 households, the most frequently reported health concerns across the four communities were allergies, high blood pressure/heart problems, anxiety or depression, and diabetes. Two out of every 3 households identified outdoor air pollution, particularly from nearby truck traffic and local industries, as an key environmental concern. Other neighborhood-specific concerns included contaminated land, illegal dumping, acid use at local refineries, and lack of green space. Feedback from local stakeholders on the survey results was mixed. For some, the results validated their lived experiences. Others identified the need for research to provide causal links between exposures and outcomes.

“What this has meant is to be able to verify the suspicions we had about the health of our communities around the Exide plant. We will have established a project that we can work together with the Los Angeles County Public Health Dept to develop new campaigns to educate the immigrant community about health, and the connection between food and our health.” - Felipe Aguirre

“Our Wilmington, Carson & Long Beach communities are so blessed to have lived the successful experience of CASPER in our neighborhoods, the surveys have proved for once and for all, our South Bay children & families deserve clean air, clean water, and clean soil NOW!” Peace, Si Se Puede! - Ricardo Pulido, CFASE Environmentalist Advocate

Check out the reports for each community by clicking on the buttons below:

There are key advantages to conducting a CASPER survey – including standardized methodology, speed of execution, and relatively low resource use – that can make it well suited for rapid research in EJ communities. The results of these surveys provide quantitative evidence validating the lived experiences of households in EJ communities. Further, they are key baseline measures against which future surveys in these communities can be compared to determine the effectiveness of regulatory policies.

"Partnering with academics at USC and our Public Health Department has built a solid foundation for our community to continue to take a snapshot of our health periodically and compare it to a solid baseline; we have a repeatable process.  The data is strong because of our partnership in a community lead process where expertise in the community is not only recognized but a critical factor in a successful completion of a CASPER type health survey.  Information that has integrity and we can rely on, that is exactly what we needed." - Cynthia Babich, Founder and Director of Del Amo Action Committee

Click here for full reports:

This study was supported in part by: 

  • USC Environmental Justice Research Lab
  • P30ES007048

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