Community Concerns and Involvement

The College of Public Health and Human Sciences along with the Environmental Health Sciences Center at Oregon State University teamed up with Beyond Toxics in Eugene, OR to investigate the community's concerns about asthma prevalence in school children. 

Preliminary research conducted by Beyond Toxics shows that West Eugene is an environmental justice community. When compared to other Eugene neighborhoods, West Eugene contained a disproportionate number of air pollution sources, a higher percentage of low-income households, and a higher percentage of Hispanic residents.

Concern: The community was concerned that the prevalence of asthma was higher in West Eugene.

To begin to evaluate this possibility, Beyond Toxics obtained publically available school records where parents indicated if their child had asthma. This information was used to calculate the prevalence rate of asthma for each of the 43 participating schools in Eugene.

A simple comparison by school district showed that the asthma prevalence in schools located in West Eugene was 14% compared to an asthma prevalence of 8% in other schools located in Eugene. Schools with a higher proportion of low-income families also had a higher prevalence of asthma. These initial observations of asthma prevalence patterns warrant further investigation.

The results of this study were presented by Eric Coker, a PhD student in the College of Public Health and Human Services, at the Environmental Health Disparities & Environmental Justice Meeting at Research Triangle Park, North Carolina (July 29-31, 2013).

Conclusions 
  • Compared to the other neighborhoods in Eugene, this community has more sources of air pollution, schools with a higher prevalence of asthma, anda higher proportion of lower income housholds, identifying this community as an environmental justice community.
  • Develop and test a tool that can analyze exposure to air pollutants, proximity to sources of air pollution and the effect on lung function.
  • Expand the project into other communities outside of Oregon

Air Pollution| Phase One | Next: Phase Two