EPA’s Community-Focused Exposure and Risk Screening Tool: A Trial with Community Partners

By Simphiwe Laura Stewart, Patrick Bruce Duncan and Sheryl M. Stohs, PhD.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: February 12, 2016 $US5.00

Our ongoing research, in partnership with communities in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 10, tests a tool designed to provide practical, cutting-edge scientific resources to improve human health and the environment. The Community-Focused Exposure and Risk Screening Tool (C-FERST) was designed by EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) to help communities identify and prioritize their environmental concerns and to support their decision-making processes. This article is based on a presentation given at The Eleventh International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic, and Social Sustainability. We give a broad introduction to the genesis of C-FERST by ORD beginning with EPA’s focus on environmental justice. Then we describe our approach to testing the utility of C-FERST in two communities of different typographies: Tacoma, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. Awareness of environmental, socio-economic, and institutional concerns can generally provide parameters for community responses to local issues. However, the experiences of this project bring research face to face with the impact of the generational, cultural, and geo-spatial awareness of these communities. We hope to determine how the tool can help communities develop and strengthen information they have identified as important to creating sustainable solutions for their issues. An initial trial of the research model in Tacoma generated lessons learned and best practices that were used as a basis for working with communities in Portland. The Portland communities are examining issues such as environmental education, exposure to contaminants, and environmental justice advocacy. Research in both communities is being conducted to (1) address significant environmental, human health, and education concerns at the community level; (2) provide tools, including GIS mapping tools that incorporate citizen science in communities to understand and reduce environmental burdens; and (3) evaluate the estimates of exposure, risk, and the improvement in human health.

Keywords: Environmental Justice, GIS, EPA, C-FERST, Sustainability, Community-based Participatory Research, Citizen Science

The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice, Volume 12, Issue 2, June 2016, pp.1-12. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: February 12, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 614.365KB)).

Simphiwe Laura Stewart

Postgraduate Research Intern, Region 10 Office of Ecosystems, Tribal, and Public Affairs, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Seattle, Washington, USA

Patrick Bruce Duncan

Regional Science Liaison to EPA Office of Research and Development, Office of Environmental Assessment, EPA, Region 10, Seatlle, WA, USA

Sheryl M. Stohs, PhD

Regional Environmental Justice Community Liaison / Region 10 Environmental Justice Small Grants Coordinator, Office of Ecosystems Tribal and Public Affairs, EPA, Region 10, Seatlle, WA, USA