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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Texas A&M: Study Brings Together Disciplines in Effort to Remedy Environmental Issues in Houston Neighborhood

Dr. Garett Sansom, of the Texas A&M School of Public Health, worked with Dr. Galen Newman, of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, to develop a plan to aid in solving environmental issues neighborhoods in industrial areas face.

Dr. Sansom, graduate student, Ms. Katie Kirsch and recent graduate Dr. Gaston Casillias, both of the School of Public Health, served as co-authors on the study which was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

They studied the Harrisburg/Manchester neighborhood in Houston, a low-income neighborhood along the Houston Ship Channel that is plagued with numerous issues including flooding, air pollution and health concerns.

First, they met with the community and partners. Maps of their neighborhood were laid out so those attending could circle where the problems such as pooling of standing water were.

An app was created where individuals could take a picture of the area and upload it to the cloud. Researchers geocoded info into a sophisticated mapping program. The team used this information to collect environmental data in the area such as metals in standing water and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the soil.

Dr. Newman created landscape plans for the community members of what the area could look like if abandon buildings were removed, improvements were made in the infrastructure, and green space and riparian zones were added.

Drs. Sansom and Newman are also teaming with toxicologists at the Texas A&M University Superfund Research Center and the Texas A&M Institute for Sustainable Communities to create a public health landscape tool.

According to Dr. Sansom, the tool will be able to predict the short-, medium- and long-term public health outcomes that can be expected if proposed changes such as landscaping, greenspace and walkability are implemented.

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