and college levels, health professionals, and workers; (2) serving as an information resource on environmental and occupational health problems; and (3) assisting the community in identifying and controlling toxic environmental hazards. A highlight of community-researcher collaboration in the South Bronx community served by COEP resulted in a proposal to NIEHS for funding for a research and intervention program that would address childhood asthma. The researchers responded to the questions posed by the community to ''find what is in the air that is causing us to suffer respiratory problems and a high asthma rate" (Claudio, 1996a). The residents of the community will serve as study subjects but will also be involved in study design and implementation.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Health professionals, community residents, and basic environmental health sciences researchers understand too little about environmental justice and environmental health issues. Building an effective community network that can identify, correct, and prevent environmental health risks requires enhanced efforts in the training of health professionals and education of the public. A collaborative community response to environmental health risks will help limit and prevent environmental insults and their harmful health effects. Such a community response requires that health professionals be able to diagnose environmentally related diseases, that the public understand the risks to community health, and that governmental and industrial leaders be responsive to the needs of the community. To this end, educational programs that will more effectively link all parts of the community and that will build a coherent network to meet the public needs need to be created or enhanced.

Recommendation 3. The committee recommends that environmental justice in general and specific environmental hazards in particular be the focus of educational efforts to improve the understanding of these issues among community residents and health professionals, including medical, nursing, and public health practitioners. This would include the following:

  • enhancing health professionals' knowledge of environmental health and justice issues,
  • increasing the number of health professionals specializing in environmental and occupational medicine, and
  • improving the awareness and understanding of these issues by the general public.


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