Field Placement: Southern California
Environmental Health Sciences Center, Community Outreach and Education Program
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Preceptor: Andrea Hricko, MPH
Student Name: Sarah Newman
I performed my summer internship at the Community Outreach and Education Program (COEP) of the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center, a joint program of USC and UCLA, based at the USC Keck School of Medicine. My preceptor was the director of COEP, Andrea Hricko. COEP spearheads efforts to include community organizations in the participatory-based research of the Center and to incorporate scientific findings in local groups’ outreach and education programs.
The main focus of my internship was the health consequences of the Los Angeles/Long Beach Ports and the related Goods Movement Industry, which is the movement of cargo from the Ports via rail or truck to intermodal facilities and rail yards and/or warehouses. Specifically, there are plans to build a new Burlington Northern Santa Fe rail yard four miles from the Ports, in West Long Beach. This new site would handle up to 1.5 million cargo containers annually, which translates into increased truck traffic and thus, more air, noise and light pollution, worse health effects and decreased quality of life. I researched and created a range of materials for COEP and community groups to use in their outreach and educational efforts about this issue. I also worked with community groups in their outreach efforts regarding statewide hearings about a secret Memorandum of Understanding, signed by the staff of the state Air Resources Board and the railroads which sets weak standards and limits the ability of legislators and local agencies to address railroad emissions.
Overall, this internship gave me great exposure to the environmental-health community in Los Angeles, the collaborative efforts of researchers and community groups, and increased knowledge about the Goods Movement Industry. The Ports and Goods Movement Industry are, and will continue to be, some of the most significant sources of air pollution and the resulting health consequences in Southern California, a place which already boasts the worst air quality in the nation.
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