Engaging residents to examine and take action to address the environmental health concerns from potential exposure to chemicals from sources nearby, including the former PureGro toxic site in Brawley
Community members in Brawley, CA, have long expressed concerns about suspected exposures and health outcomes related to pollution from nearby sources, including a former agrochemical plant, an animal rendering and slaughterhouse, pesticide applications on nearby farms, a cooling facility, and mobile source emissions from roadways.
The PureGro toxic site located on the east side of the city of Brawley, CA has been suspected by the community to have afflicted their health for decades. Homes are as close as 50 ft from the site and schools are located less than half a mile away. There are ongoing community concerns about the possible exposure to different chemicals. To this day, the Department of Toxic Substances Control has not conducted any exposure or health assessments to determine if the community of Brawley has been exposed to toxic chemicals or if any of these have shifted to their homes during the decades of this site’s existence.
The Brawley Health ACTION Environmental Study, which began in the spring of 2021 and sunsets in the fall of 2023, will engage residents to better understand their concerns and explore whether these sources may be resulting in community exposure. The Study aims to engage residents living near these sources to document community concerns and oral histories, design and conduct a health assessment and environmental monitoring, report results back to the broader community, share concerning findings with the proper agencies, and conduct activities that empower the community to protect their own health.
This Study is funded by the California Air Resources Board and their Supplemental Environmental Projects, bringing different partners with different expertise to undertake the goals of the Study. Comite Civico del Valle, Universidad Popular, the Public Health Institute, and Tracking California will engage with community members to ensure community leadership and community participation are included throughout the project.
Specific plan activities and strategies will be decided based on the recommendations made by a community advisory group, a larger resident group, and Comite Civico del Valle as a longtime Brawley-based community organization. After the planning is completed then the study will conduct a health assessment to better understand the community’s health status and their concerns. Additionally, there will be an environmental sampling of the surrounding communities to better understand any potential community exposure. This may include testing the soil, the water, or air. As planned, the study results will be shared with the community and engage them to develop and implement an action plan.
“After long years of advocacy and community involvement, and despite the inaction of the pertinent agencies, is encouraging to see the California Air Resources Board stepping up to the plate bringing meaningful collaborations to address the environmental health concerns that the community has been struggling for decades.” said Luis Olmedo, Executive Director of Comite Civico del Valle. “The Study will not only help to find the answers to the community’s concerns, but more importantly it will involve community members to participate throughout the process and activities carried by the project, encouraging community residents to take action in their own health.”
For questions and more information, please contact the study’s Principal Investigator and lead for Tracking California, Paul English at Paul.English@trackingcalifornia.org or community partner Comite Civico del Valle, Luis Olmedo at Luis@ccvhealth.org