What pollutants are West Dallas residents exposed to? EPA aims to figure it out

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The Environmental Protection Agency will study air, water, fish tissue and soil quality in West Dallas to determine whether residents are being exposed to high levels of pollutants.

The EPA announced at a regional meeting in West Dallas that the cumulative impact assessment will begin in December and run through July 2024.

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“West Dallas has historically been affected by environmental issues, and organizations like West Dallas and Singleton United have organized and fought to keep the community clean and pollution-free.” said Arcee Nance, EPA regional administrator for Region 6. “That’s why EPA chose this area of ​​the city for its Cumulative Impact Assessment pilot project.”

District 6 City Councilor Omar Narváez and Dallas Environmental Commission Vice Chair Esther Villarreal joined EPA officials in presenting the study to West Dallas residents at the multi-purpose center Monday night.

Some residents say they’re excited EPA leaders are investigating the situation in their communities and hope to find answers to the age-old question: “What are West Dallas residents exposed to?” said.

“We need to know what we’re breathing, why we’re always feeling unwell, and find solutions for our communities,” said Mary, a resident whose family has asthma.・Paras said.

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Some are skeptical about how the results will be handled and whether they will be used to tighten regulations.

“We need action. We should have moved them (the polluters) a long time ago,” said Tony Carrillo, a West Dallas resident who has run for City Council in the past. “We know they have been polluting these areas for a long time. We already know the harm. We need action against them.”

This project will investigate the environmental impact of multiple concrete batching plants in a concentrated area. Data is collected from soil, water, and fish tissue sampling and modeling, and takes into account the effects of unregulated environmental stressors that impact local communities, such as high traffic levels.

For example, air modeling assesses the dispersion of particulate matter, silica, nickel, and other toxic pollutants. For water sampling and fish tissue analysis, EPA staff collects samples from public fishing areas and analyzes them for mercury.

Members of the West Dallas 1 District Organization, Environmental Protection Agency, and community members speak during a health learning conference at the West Dallas Multipurpose Center on November 13, 2023 in Dallas, Texas. (Jason Janik/Special Contributor)(Jason Janik/Special Contributor)

Local residents are invited to join EPA investigators as they go out to investigate.

Janie Cisneros, leader of Singleton United/Unidos, a community group fighting to shut down shingle manufacturer GAF’s West Dallas facility, said during the meeting that the EPA is a strong ally of the West Dallas community.

“I want to come out here and thank the EPA for taking our communities into account and putting in the resources, because that’s something we’re not seeing at the local level right now,” Cisneros said. .

Narvaez said the community needs to work together to make things right for the well-being of residents.

“I know that for some, we’re not moving fast enough. And for others, we’re moving forward. This is an us-versus-them war. This is not a united front,” Narváez said. “It is up to us to right more than 80 years of injustice as quickly and fairly as possible.”

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Singleton United/Unidos and West Dallas 1, another local environmental justice group, will be in direct contact with EPA investigators to be briefed on the process, said EPA Director of Air and Radiation. said David Garcia. Once the project is complete, EPA will share a summary report at community meetings.

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