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EPA Provides Federal Grants to Brooklyn Community Group Working to Protect Public Health

Release Date: 01/28/2011
Contact Information: Elias Rodriguez, (212) 637-3664 or (732) 672-5520 (cell), rodriguez.elias@epa.gov

(Brooklyn, N.Y.) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator, Judith Enck was joined by Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez to announce the award of two EPA grants, totaling $125,000, to the Brooklyn non-profit group UPROSE. The group is dedicated to involving youth and residents in economic and environmental issues. It will use the funding to better understand and address air pollution and other environmental concerns in the Sunset Park, Brooklyn community.

The first grant for $100,000 grant was awarded under EPA’s Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) program to help to the community identify and address pollution problems in the area, with a focus on raising local awareness, engaging residents in compiling a list of local environmental hazards and finding ways to reduce pollution and protect public health. CARE is a unique community-based, community-driven, demonstration program designed to help communities understand and reduce risks due to toxic pollutants and environmental concerns from all pollution sources. An EPA environmental justice grant of $25,000 will be used to test water samples and measure and map air pollution in the community.

“EPA is providing resources to help this community better understand and reduce pollution,” said Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “By engaging students in environmental testing, UPROSE is recognizing that youth make up the next generation of environmental stewards. The grants will also facilitate a series of stakeholder meetings at which community residents will assess the state of their local environment and exchange information and concerns.”

"Sunset Park is a working class waterfront community that is saturated with environmental burdens and health related problems. The EPA grant is like no other in that it presents vulnerable communities with the support and tools necessary to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders to prioritize environmental concerns and collectively begin to address them,” said Elizabeth C. Yeampierre, Esq., Executive Director of UPROSE.

Sunset Park has a high asthma rate that may be affected by air pollution from a local bus depot, three power plants, a sludge treatment plant and the Gowanus Expressway. The community is impacted by traffic, industrial spills, dumping, household and industrial use of fertilizers and the spread of pesticides. People who live in the area are less likely to have a regular doctor than those in New York City overall and the percent of residents living below the poverty level is higher than the city-wide average. The area is economically distressed and has a large number of immigrants. Nearly one in two residents of Sunset Park was born outside the U.S.

UPROSE will use the $25,000 environmental justice grant to measure sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide using mobile monitoring equipment, and map their concentrations. These air pollutants can cause respiratory illnesses, lung disease, and heart disease and can exacerbate cases of asthma. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide are significant contributors to acid rain; nitrogen oxide also increases ground level ozone, which causes smog. Fine particles released from cars, trucks, buses and industrial facilities can lodge deep into the lungs and, over time, cause permanent damage to the lungs.

UPROSE will team up with students from the Sunset Park High School and a local middle school on a project to test tap water and local waterways for contaminants such as lead, mercury and pesticides. The grant recipient will incorporate climate change into the discussion to help residents understand the relationship of their environment to a changing global climate.

For a full description of the projects and grant details, go to: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/ej/resources/publications/grants/ej-smgrants-recipients-2010.pdf
http://www.epa.gov/care/community2010.htm

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