As the newest United Nations climate report came out warning it's "now or never" to make severe cuts to emissions, a study in the small community of Joppa south of Dallas aims to reduce pollution.
"We know that especially communities of color are disproportionately exposed to pollutants because of legacy and zoning laws," Texas A&M researcher and Assistant Professor of Environmental Health Natalie Johnson said.
Johnson and fellow Texas A&M researcher Ping Ma are working with Downwinders at Risk to measure industry-caused pollution in the community with the hope of mitigating health impacts.
"We aim to reduce the air pollution level in Joppa," Ma said.
The average life expectancy in Joppa is 13 years less than someone living in Highland Park.
"I don't ever think it should always be up to the individual to modify their behavior around a pollutant," Johnson said. "The long-term goal is equipping the community with the knowledge for change, and not only documenting that the levels are high on those days but eventually how can we modulate those levels so that they don't go above a certain threshold that could be detrimental to health."
Johnson and Ma said global pollution has local links that contribute to the bigger problem of climate change, seen in melting ice caps in the arctic and more frequent wildfires.
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"This is a cycle," said. "Even the local air pollution can impact globally."
The Joppa project is funded by a 3-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.