Research Methods for GRASP Fugitive Chemicals Project

Building a Community-based Chemical Inventory

We are collecting and using both local and “traditional” data sources (e.g., data from federal government agencies) to identify chemical sources and to catalog the potential chemicals that are contained in each source and their estimated amounts. We are using geographic information systems (GIS) to map these sources and as a way to communicate our findings to the community.

Creating Profiles of Recovery Worker Activities

Estimating exposure to chemicals requires us to know how recovery workers may have been exposed. What activities did they do that may have led them to have more or less contact with a chemical? What kinds of clothing did workers wear that might have an effect on whether chemicals got on their skin? Did workers wear masks or other protective equipment? In what kinds of "stuff" (e.g., mud, water, indoors, outdoors, etc.) did workers carry out their activities? Answers to these questions will help us to create profiles of recovery workers and help understand chemical exposure.

We are gathering this data through collection and analysis of photos, videos, articles, and news reports that show or discuss recovery worker activities. See the example photo above and sample videos below.

Estimating Exposure and Health Risks

We will be using publicly available software developed by The LifeLine Group called Community Based Assessment Software™ Version 1.0 — C-BAS™ 1.0 — to estimate risks to recovery workers in industrial waterfront communities. The software is available for download here.

C-BAS™ 1.0 is an important tool because of its ability to integrate local knowledge and data, such as the data we are gathering for the chemical inventory and recovery worker profiles. In this way, communities can customize results according to their unique characteristics, environments, people, and conditions. For more information on C-BAS™ please visit The LifeLine Group website.

Ensuring Our Research Moves into Practice

Our project was designed with the goal of having products that would be useful to the community for planning purposes. To this end, we are working closely with our Community Stakeholder Group by sharing research outputs and receiving feedback on items such as presentation, ways to communicate and disseminate the information, things that are unclear, things that might be missing that would be important for the community to know, etc.

In addition we are planning widespread dissemination of findings across different groups by presenting at academic conferences, sharing findings with policy and decisionmakers, and disseminating our work to other industrial waterfront communities who could benefit from similar projects.