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Thu, Jun 15



Drivers and Outcomes of Pollution Disparities in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley

Lessons Learned for Environmental Justice Communities

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Drivers and Outcomes of Pollution Disparities in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley
Drivers and Outcomes of Pollution Disparities in Louisiana’s Cancer Alley

Time & Location

Jun 15, 2023, 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM EDT


About the event

Communities of Color in Louisiana have long maintained that they are overburdened with industrial pollution, particularly in the region known as Cancer Alley. 

Efforts to reduce this pollution burden have been hindered by a lack of engagement from the scientific community, as well as a general lack of science literacy among decision-makers. In this presentation, we share results from our recent peer-reviewed research to help inform industrial permitting in Louisiana, with broader relevance to other communities burdened with industrial pollution.

In the first study, we evaluated whether toxic air pollution was associated with higher cancer incidence among Louisiana census tracts, after accounting for race, poverty, occupation, smoking, and obesity. In the second study, we assessed whether industrial emissions disproportionately affect communities of Color in Louisiana, and whether potential disparities might be driven by industrial infrastructure, as state regulators have suggested. 

We will discuss the implications of our findings for communities and decision-makers, as well as opportunities for scientists to contribute to environmental justice more broadly.

Participant Biographies

Kimberly Terrell, PhD, Director of Community Engagement and Research Scientist at Tulane University. 

Dr. Kimberly Terrell is a Research Scientist and the Director of Community Engagement at the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic (New Orleans, Louisiana). She has broad expertise related to environmental issues, including in public health, statistics, and air monitoring. Her current work focuses on the intersection of science and environmental regulation, particularly with respect to underserved communities. In her role at the Clinic, she provides technical assistance to students, attorneys, community members and others working on environmental issues. Much of her work focuses on addressing knowledge gaps in environmental health. For example, she recently published the first peer-reviewed study to identify toxic air pollution as a contributing factor to Louisiana’s disproportionately high cancer burden. Dr. Terrell also works to promote science literacy among environmental decision-makers in Louisiana, particularly with respect to the precautionary principle and the challenges of identifying adverse health outcomes in small populations. She has provided expert testimony on environmental issues to the U.S. Congress Subcommittee on the Environment and to the Louisiana Legislative Auditor.

Dr. Terrell is a recipient of the Tulane Environmental Stewardship Award, an alumna of the David H. Smith Conservation Research Fellowship Program, and a lifetime member of the Society for Conservation Biology. She serves on the Science Advisory Board for the Center for Applied Environmental Science and is adjunct faculty in the Department of Biology at the University of Memphis and the School of Renewable Natural Resources at Louisiana State University. She recently joined the Tulane Cancer Center's Population Sciences and Prevention Program as a Contributing Member.

Gianna St. Julien, Researcher & Community Engagement Specialist at Tulane University

Gianna St. Julien joined the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic in 2020 after receiving a bachelor's degree in Environmental Science with a concentration in Soil and Water Quality and Geology from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. While at ULL she held a position in Geosciences studying the ecology and hydrology of ephemeral streams throughout Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana. As a native New Orleanian, her work with the Environmental Law Clinic is centered around community engagement in Louisiana by providing environmental health resources and information to community members and assist local environmental justice organizations in tracking the permitting of new and existing industrial projects throughout the state.  In addition to community engagement, she also creates GIS visualizations and analyses of environmental health, industrial pollution, demographic, socioeconomic, and infrastructure data in an effort to contribute to Louisiana’s available environmental research.

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