Los Angeles County, California is the largest urban oil field in the country and home to thousands of active oil wells in very close proximity to homes, schools and parks. Using state data, this new tools allows you to assess proximity of active or idle wells to your location and see how much oil or gas is produced nearby. Overall, we find that 75% of active wells are within 2500 feet of residential buildings.
The full StoryMap can be viewed here. A slideshow version of the StoryMap can be viewed below.
My team compared the levels of lead in teeth to lead levels in the soil. We discovered a significant trend. The more lead in the soil in residential neighborhoods, the higher the levels in the teeth – both prenatally and during the first year of life. We continue to collaborate with the community to work toward prevention of lead exposure and cleanup of the contaminated soil.
The following editorial by the Truth Fairy Project’s lead researcher appears in The Conversation in full.
The environmental tragedy in Flint, Michigan, in which drinking water contaminated with lead raised fears of potential health effects for exposed children, revealed the failure of a regulatory system to protect residents from lead exposure.
Until 2015 the Exide Technologies lead-acid battery smelter, in southeast Los Angeles County, California, recycled approximately 11 million lead acid batteries per year while operating on temporary state permits. This violated multiple federal environmental regulations and exposed over 100,000 residents to lead and other toxic metals. The result was large-scale environmental disaster with lead contamination of the air and soil in largely Latino communities.
As an environmental scientist and epidemiologist, I sought to understand lead pollution in children growing up in this area. For my research I collaborated with local community organizations and relied on an archive of biological samples that families often save: baby teeth.
from recycled car batteries at the Exide plant in Vernon ended up in the baby
teeth of children living nearby, a USC study shows.
“We found the
higher the level of lead in the soil, the higher the amount of lead in baby
teeth,” said first author Jill Johnston, an assistant professor of preventive
medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “There’s no safe level of lead;
it’s a potent neurotoxin. Our study provides insight into the legacy of the impact
of industrial contamination on children.”
The Exide plant,
located just southeast of downtown Los Angeles, recycled 11 million auto batteries
per year and released 3,500 tons of lead until it closed in March 2015 as part
of a legal settlement for hazardous waste violations.
As many as
250,000 residents, mostly working-class Latinos, face a chronic health hazard
from exposure to airborne lead and arsenic that subsequently settles into the
soil, according to a 2013 health risk assessment by the South Coast Air Quality
For USC’s “Truth Fairy” study, published in the XX edition of Environmental Science & Technology, researchers collected 50 baby teeth from 43 children in five communities: Boyle Heights, Maywood, East L.A., Commerce and Huntington Park. They recruited families through churches, schools and door-to-door visits. A local organization, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, coined the name, “Truth Fairy.”
ablation and an analytical technique for molecular-level information, the
researchers were able to look at the teeth layer by layer and assign time
points for lead contamination, such as the second trimester of pregnancy, when
teeth are starting to form in the mother’s womb.
On April 25, USC Community Engagement staff along with community partner Sandy Navarro from LA Grit Media began A Day in the Life program with youth from Pacoima Beautiful. The training kicked off the program during which youth from Pacoima will engage in community based air monitoring and storytelling through digital media. For more information on A Day in the Life click here.
New research from our Center investigators suggests that early exposure to traffic pollution may be linked to unhealthy diet in adolescence.
by Leigh Hopper, USC Media Relations
Could air pollution be making us fat?
A new USC study suggests that exposure to traffic pollution during childhood makes adolescents 34 percent more likely to eat foods high in unhealthy trans fats — regardless of household income, parent education level or proximity to fast-food restaurants. The findings on air pollution and obesity in teens appear in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
“Strange as it may seem, we discovered kids in polluted communities ate more fast food than other kids,” said Zhanghua Chen, a postdoctoral research associate in the department of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, and the study’s first author.
On Saturday June 30th 2018, USC Environmental Health Centers, Community Engagement Program on Health and Environment, hosted the Los Angeles Youth for Environmental Justice (#LAYouth4EJ) Forum to highlight and center the work of youth in the forefront of the environmental justice movement. The forum celebrated young people who are visioning and organizing for safe, healthy and just communities where we can all play, study, live and thrive!
The forum brought together over thirty-five youth organizers from six different neighborhoods addressing Los Angeles most pressing environmental health issues.
“A Day in the Life” is a community-based media project that brings visibility to the stories of youth of color living and organizing in four Los Angeles communities that experience a variety of environmental & pollution impacts. Participants used multimedia to document what they see and experience during the course of their day while monitoring air pollution in each of their respective communities.
Launched in the summer of 2017, “A Day in the Life” was developed as part of a collaboration with USC and with community-based organizations with youth memberships. With a goal to increase environmental health literacy, collect community owned data, and promote awareness about exposures to pollution at the neighborhood level in environmental justice, youth participated in a series of workshops. In these workshops participants learned about air pollution, particulate matter <2.5 µg/m, sources of pollution and the impacts on health. Participants were trained to use AirBeams, low-cost portable air monitoring devices, to record the air pollution along their daily routes of travel from their homes to school and around their communities. In collaboration with Sandy Navarro of LA Grit Media, students also participated in a Storytelling for Social Change workshop, where they learned the skills needed to capture and craft a story, such as story boarding, framing shots, and becoming familiar with photo and video editing tools. Continue reading “A Day in the Life program showcases youth stories and air pollution monitoring”