Next Steps toward Better Health for Proctor Creek Neighborhoods

We know that there are environmental health challenges in the Vine City and English Avenue neighborhoods near Proctor Creek. So what can we do about them together?

Jan Healthy Homes meetingResidents of these neighborhoods and other partners are working together to address environmental triggers that lead to illness. Thirty-five community members, students and organizational representatives attended a community meeting on January 22nd, a follow up to a joint ECO-Action and Emory University Collaborative Health Survey that identified mold and associated environmental health issues in homes and apartments near Proctor Creek. Having shared the results of the study at an earlier meeting, this meeting sought to identify next steps in six areas of challenge:

How do we remediate the houses while the people still stay in them? We need to understand the technologies that will allow us to do this.
Makeda Johnson, Community Resident
•   lifestyle change and best practices in community education,
•   home repairs and pest control,
•   services and support for people with asthma,
•   support and process for smart relocation,
•   reducing flooding,
•   public policy for healthy homes.

For each of these challenges, community members reflected together to identify:

healthy homes youth

  1. What were the existing resources that were already available?
  2. What potential resource might be made available?
  3. What are the gaps or threats that might hinder our ability to access those resources?
  4. What are the next steps we should taking in moving forward?

Through this process, community participants identified a number of next steps toward “Healthy Homes” in each of the six areas of challenge. The greatest number were generated around the topic of reducing flooding where the identified next steps included:

healthy homes group3
• Obtaining public commitment by the City of Atlanta to support integrated stormwater management planning;
•   Enhancing public education;
•   Improving the knowledge of residents so that they are better able to report problems and take action for flood prevention;
•   Providing training about best practices to address mold problems;
•   Providing disaster preparedness training and awareness;
•   Developing community businesses to collect scrap tires and turn them into permeable pavement.

You can watch the highlights of the session in the video below.  A table that summarizes all of the next steps can be downloaded here.

The group plans to meet in April to prioritize these next steps. Please contact Dr. Yomi if you’d like additional information about the Collaborative Health Survey findings or to be notified about future Healthy Homes strategy sessions.

Thanks to Kelly Brown for the photographs and video.

Understanding the Relationship between Pollution and Poor Health

mold-8Can living in a building with mold, roaches and paint chips make you or your children more likely to have asthma attacks? NPR, in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, recently conducted a poll looking at the social determinants of health in America. When people rated 14 possible causes of ill health, respondents identified exposure to pollution as one of the top five. NPR has been running an audio series this week that looks at these issues.

Since December, residents of the Vine City and English Avenues neighborhoods of Atlanta have been looking at similar issues and trying to determine what they can do together. Neighbors met in late February to discuss next steps to take based on a survey that ECO-Action completed in partnership with Emory University School of Public Health. The survey looked at prevalence of mold in housing near Proctor Creek . It also tried to show the relationships between flooding and health problems. Some of the findings include:

  1. Mold was observed in more than half (53%) of residences,
  2. Residents reported being aware of the mold in their homes in just less than half (47%) of residences in which mold was observed,
  3. Participants with mold observed in their homes overall reported more coughing at night than those without mold,
  4. 14% of the survey participants reported currently having asthma.

In comparison:

  1. 1.5% had visible mold in the living room or bedroom in the American Healthy Homes Survey.
  2. 7.8% of people who participated in the 2010 Georgia Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey reported current asthma.

Additional information about the Proctor Creek Community Collaborative Health Survey can be found  in the Proctor Creek Survey Findings Community Brochure here.

The NPR story provides an easy entrée into a better understanding of the environmental health problems we are seeing in the Proctor Creek area of these neighborhoods. Low income persons living in substandard housing often face exposure to environmental contaminants and experience poor health as a result.

Here is a link to the Tuesday March 3rd show that focused on housing and its impacts on health.You can also watch an hour long forum which examines the social and environmental issues related to health or access links to the rest of the series here.

If you have any concern about air pollution or other environmental health issue in your community and you are willing to organize, you can call ECO-Action. We are ready to assist.