Data to Action: Community-Based Participatory Research to Address Concerns about Metal Air Pollution in Overburdened Neighborhoods near Metal Recycling Facilities in Houston

Environ Health Perspect. 2023 Jun;131(6):67006. doi: 10.1289/EHP11405. Epub 2023 Jun 7.


Background: Exposures to environmental contaminants can be influenced by social determinants of health. As a result, persons living in socially disadvantaged communities may experience disproportionate health risks from environmental exposures. Mixed methods research can be used to understand community-level and individual-level exposures to chemical and nonchemical stressors contributing to environmental health disparities. Furthermore, community-based participatory research (CBPR) approaches can lead to more effective interventions.

Objectives: We applied mixed methods to identify environmental health perceptions and needs among metal recyclers and residents living in disadvantaged neighborhoods near metal recycling facilities in Houston, Texas, in a CBPR study, Metal Air Pollution Partnership Solutions (MAPPS). Informed by what we learned and our previous findings from cancer and noncancer risk assessments of metal air pollution in these neighborhoods, we developed an action plan to lower metal aerosol emissions from metal recycling facilities and enhance community capacity to address environmental health risks.

Methods: Key informant interviews, focus groups, and community surveys were used to identify environmental health concerns of residents. A diverse group from academia, an environmental justice advocacy group, the community, the metal recycling industry, and the local health department collaborated and translated these findings, along with results from our prior risk assessments, to inform a multifaceted public health action plan.

Results: An evidence-based approach was used to develop and implement neighborhood-specific action plans. Plans included a voluntary framework of technical and administrative controls to reduce metal emissions in the metal recycling facilities, direct lines of communication among residents, metal recyclers, and local health department officials, and environmental health leadership training.

Discussion: Using a CBPR approach, health risk assessment findings based on outdoor air monitoring campaigns and community survey results informed a multipronged environmental health action plan to mitigate health risks associated with metal air pollution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution* / analysis
  • Community-Based Participatory Research*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Environmental Health
  • Metals


  • Metals