Environmental Justice Needs Assessment for Health & Air Quality (Spring 2022)

Team: Elizabeth Duran (Project Lead), Paige Aldenberg, Sadie Murray, Thomas Schindelman

Summary: Health and air quality are concerns in environmental justice (EJ) work, as air contaminants and their adverse health effects inequitably impact communities that are often underrepresented in research and litigation. Previously, the NASA DEVELOP National Program partnered with organizations that focus on a variety of health and air quality concerns and is now committed to partnering directly with EJ organizations to address inequities in health and air quality through the application of Earth observations. To support the establishment of future partnerships, DEVELOP is working to identify potential partners for further EJ research in the U.S. regarding health and air quality. This project conducted a needs assessment with EJ organizations to quantify their EJ involvement, geospatial capacity, and interest in collaborating with DEVELOP. A broad literature review identified multiple factors influencing health and air quality for potential DEVELOP projects: agriculture, heat, wildfires, industry and transportation infrastructure, and miscellaneous factors (e.g., burning, urban heat island effect, smoke plumes, truck exhaust, and noise). The needs assessment showed that 22% of the organizations interviewed were primarily concerned with transportation infrastructure, 21% with industry, 19% with heat, 10% with miscellaneous factors (e.g., resource mining, COVID-19), 8% with wildfires, 7% with agriculture, and 6% with resource mining. This will help inform the DEVELOP Program's pursuit of EJ projects relating to health and air quality. The team also created a directory for communities impacted by air pollutants to connect with geospatial resources and NASA Applied Sciences personnel for future EJ health and air quality work.