ALERT’s Toxic Trespass Program takes science where people need it the most – into fence-line communities in the Gulf Coast region, the largest petrochemical-producing area in North America. By creating a science-based program that is accessible to the people most at risk, ALERT and our partners are developing a tool that everyone will be able to use to reduce toxic oil-chemical exposures in their own communities.
From February through April, we developed, field-tested, and evaluated the first Toxic Trespass Training module with 4 fence-line community partners in Houston, Texas, and Mobile, Alabama. In the process, we gained 7 more community partners in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas – and an invitation to present at the NAACP Alabama state conference in October.
The Toxic Trespass Team is made up of a diverse group of partners. All members have direct experience living in heavily polluted areas. At least two communities are in the upper 99th percentile of American cities on a number of pollution indices. These individuals are living the consequences of toxic exposures and lax government policies. Several of our team members have advanced degrees in public health and/or social work. All are committed to helping people create healthier communities.
The Toxic Trespass team is currently conducting another round of trainings. Early survey results from our trainings in Africatown (in the Mobile, Alabama, area) and the fishing community in Bayou La Batre show a solid increase in understanding of these topics:
- types of environmental health hazards,
- where oil-chemical pollutants might be in “my” environment,
- how these pollutants enter and exit a body,
- how to explain symptoms of oil-chemical exposures and health effects,
- why being exposed to oil-chemical pollutants is dangerous, and
- why it is important to choose a Health Care Provider familiar with environmental medicine.
This understanding builds local capacity to support our 2-year training program that is designed to engage community residents in reducing toxic exposures in people’s communities; our homes, schools, workplaces.
Toxic Trespass training material is available to download for free.