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U.S. EPA awards Contra Costa County $90,000 to reduce toxics in Bay Point: County one of 22 nationwide receiving grants totaling $3.4 million

Release Date: 12/11/2007
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez 415-947-4248

SAN FRANCISCO – As part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Community Action for a Renewed Environment, or CARE program, the agency today awarded Contra Costa County $90,000 that will support the community’s activities to reduce toxics and exposure to toxics in the city of Bay Point, Calif.

The Contra Costa County Health Services and Bay Point Latino Environmental Action Project leaders will use the CARE grant to identify and prioritize health concerns caused by toxic chemicals in their community and to reduce toxic exposure.

“The CARE program empowers communities to reduce toxics in their environment,” said Deborah Jordan, the Air Division director for the U.S. EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. "The best toxics reductions programs come when we all work together and everyone has a voice in the process. We are pleased to be working with Contra Costa Health Department and its partners toward improving public health and the environment in the Bay Point community.”

“A project will be chosen for the Bay Point Environmental Justice Collaborative to address,” added Carrillo. “The purpose of CARE grants is specifically to use community engagement and capacity building to reduce the impact of environmental toxins within the local community.”

In 2005, the Bay Point Latino Environmental Action Project identified three areas of potential toxic exposure: industrial air emissions, contaminated fish, and illegal dumping.
Under the grant, four Bay Point Gateway High School students, a University of San Francisco graduate intern, citizens, promotoras (Latina women from Bay Point) and conductors (African-American women from Bay Point) will go door-to-door in Bay Point using a well-designed questionnaire to gather information about citizen’s health concerns and pollutants in their environment.

Once pollutants are identified and health-risks determined, citizens will decide actions to take that will have the greatest chance at reducing exposure to pollutants and improving health of members in the community.

Contra Costa Health Services will manage and participate in the two-year program through its Public Health Outreach, Education, and Collaboration Unit that will provide core staffing, technical assistance and support to the project.

The Bay Point Latino Environmental Action Project, or LEAP, is a partnership between the Contra Costa Health Services Department, the University of San Francisco’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences, and many other health organizations that seek to build the capacity of the Bay Point community to take action to reduce environmental health hazards.

Bay Point is a low income, ethnically diverse, unincorporated community of 21,534 residents that is experiencing the most dramatic population growth of any area in Contra Costa, with low to moderate income housing developments rapidly replacing former agricultural land. Hispanics comprise 39 percent of its residents, giving Bay Point the highest concentration of Latinos of any community in Contra Costa.

The CARE program is a national competitive grant program that offers an innovative way for communities to work at the local level to address the risks from multiple sources of toxics in their environment, bringing together a wide variety of local stakeholders. The EPA will be awarding $3.4 million nationwide to 22 new CARE projects.

For more information on the CARE grant program go to: http://www.epa.gov/care/index.htm

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