Open Access (free)
A tool of environmental justice in Ecuadorian toxic tours
Amelia Fiske

Drawing on scholarship in citizen science that has documented the enrollment of lay practices of knowledge production to denounce assemblages of capitalism, pollution, and inequality, this chapter turns to “toxic tours” in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Toxic tours began informally in the 2000s by a non-profit organization affiliated with the plaintiffs in the Aguinda v. Texaco lawsuit. In these tours, Donald Moncayo takes journalists, tourists, lawyers, and politicians to visit contaminated oil sites, using ordinary objects to assist visitors in seeing, smelling, and touching oil pollution for the first time: a glove, a long stick, a large recycled water bottle, a hand auger. These assorted tools work together to enable a direct engagement with the materiality of toxicity and legacies of extraction that would not otherwise be possible. In focusing on ordinary tools, this chapter brings the auger to bear on the public discernment of contamination and accountability, exploring how questions of industrial contamination are adjudicated, and what tools of knowledge production illuminate and what they occlude in the process. Toxic tours constitute a critical move beyond a notion of toxicity based on the triad of causality, individual bodies, and bounded environments, and toward conceptions based on porosity, relationality, and justice.

in Toxic truths
Environmental enumeration, justice, and apprehension
Nicholas Shapiro, Nasser Zakariya and Jody A. Roberts

This chapter resituates discussions of community-based science beyond the emancipatory rhetoric of democratization, creative commons, and the blurring of the bulwarks of expertise to include consideration of the potentially constrictive instrumentalist scientific idiom produced by and through these practices. This chapter asks: what are the approaches to apprehending the environment that might not so easily boil down to binaries of benevolence or harm, or to renderings of uncertainty confined to the specifications of statistical confidence intervals, that in turn justify further scientific inquiry? We gesture toward an expansive conversation that we call “inviting apprehension.” Such approaches beckon multiple strata of apprehending the environment to provoke public inquiry and intervention into the questions that undergird what we assume are the problems of today and the avenues through which we must engage them.

in Toxic truths
Open Access (free)
Community-based research amid oil development in South Los Angeles
Bhavna Shamasunder, Jessica Blickley, Marissa Chan, Ashley Collier-Oxandale, James L. Sadd, Sandy Navarro, Nicole J. Wong and Michael Hannigan

The Los Angeles basin contains one of the highest concentrations of crude oil in the world. Today, thousands of active wells are located among a dense population of 10 million people. In poor communities and communities of color, distances between wells and residences, schools, and healthcare facilities is closer than in wealthier neighborhoods. These communities are further exposed to contamination via outdated emissions equipment. In partnership with two South Los Angeles community-based organizations, we gathered data on health and experiences of living near to oil wells. The partnership utilized a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach to conduct bilingual surveys of 205 residences within 1,500 feet of the oil field and used low-cost sensors to measure methane emissions, correlated to CARB’s (California Air Resources Board) emissions inventory. Rates of asthma as diagnosed by a physician were significantly higher (18%) than in Los Angeles County (11%); 45% of respondents had no knowledge that they lived near active oil development; and 63% of residents reported they would not know how to contact the local regulatory authority. This research is part of an ongoing effort to support community organizing to establish a health and safety buffer between active urban oil development and neighborhoods.

in Toxic truths
Lessons learned from community-driven participatory research and the “people’s professor”
Sarah Rhodes, KD Brown, Larry Cooper, Naeema Muhammad and Devon Hall

The global epicenter of industrial hog production is in North Carolina (NC), USA. There, approximately 9 million hogs are raised for meat production in over 2,000 industrial hog operations (IHO) across the state. This area is also situated within the Black Belt, a geopolitical region marred by over 400 years of slavery and ongoing government-sanctioned violence. This chapter elevates the triumphs and lessons gained from actors heavily involved in both the continuing legal action against the hog industry and the NC government, as well as the community-driven participatory research (CDPR) that exposed their underlying environmental injustice and racism. This chapter first explores the history, impact, and political influence of the hog industry. Then, we summarize and celebrate the influential CDPR studies conducted by Professor Steve Wing in collaboration with community-based organizations such as the Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help (REACH) and the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN). Next, we present lessons learned from these CDPR studies for those from all backgrounds working in partnership to envision and build a future where environmental justice is actualized. Finally, this chapter honors Professor Wing as the “people’s professor,” urging academics to consult his work as a guide for transforming their own research practice.

in Toxic truths
From the development of a national surveillance system to the birth of an international network
Roberto Pasetto and Ivano Iavarone

This chapter discusses the birth and evolution of a national epidemiological monitoring system of communities affected by contaminated sites, developed in Italy. First, it describes the process of postwar industrialization and the environmental contamination in Italian industrial areas, reporting an exemplary case study. Then, it explains the characteristics of the epidemiological monitoring program created and improved to respond to requests from local authorities in order to understand whether, and to what extent, the health of their residents was at risk in areas contaminated by the industries. The chapter also discusses the usefulness of the monitoring system in promoting environmental justice, since most of the communities affected by contamination were socioeconomically fragile. Finally, it describes how the experience developed at a national level has helped in promoting an international network of researchers and experts from public health institutions, universities, and environmental agencies on the theme of contaminated sites and health.

in Toxic truths
Open Access (free)
Tackling environmental injustice in a post-truth age
Thom Davies and Alice Mah

This introductory chapter critically introduces the main concepts that run throughout the book: environmental justice, citizen science, and post-truth. It argues for the importance of science, knowledge, and data that are produced by and for ordinary people living with environmental risks and hazards. At the same time, the chapter is also attuned to the fact that data alone will never be enough to halt environmental injustice, especially as toxic pollution is so embedded within global and local structures of inequality. The chapter presents an overview of the book, which is split into four interconnected sections: environmental justice and participatory citizen science; sensing and witnessing injustice; political strategies for seeking environmental justice; and expanding citizen science. The final part of the chapter gives a brief summary of each of the fourteen chapters that appear in Toxic Truths.

in Toxic truths
Open Access (free)
Alice Mah
in Toxic truths
Open Access (free)
Thom Davies
in Toxic truths
Open Access (free)
Alice Mah
in Toxic truths
Open Access (free)
Thom Davies
in Toxic truths