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EPA Awards Nearly $500,000 to Texas Organization to improve Air Quality in the Houston Area  

DALLAS (November 29, 2023) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded $498,813 to the Achieving Community Tasks Successfully (ACTS) for a citizen science project to monitor hazardous air pollutants stemming from local pollution sources in Houston’s historic Pleasantville, Sunnyside, Fifth Ward, and Galena Park communities. The grant is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic funding packages to invest in and strengthen our nation’s communities. Primary funding came from the historic Inflation Reduction Act which has helped dozens of communities across the nation overcome longstanding pollution obstacles.

“During Administrator Regan’s Journey to Justice Tour, he promised solutions and enhanced protection for vulnerable communities experiencing longstanding pollution problems. Today, we are delivering on that promise,” said Regional Administrator Dr. Earthea Nance. “This grant funding will improve air quality in the area by empowering communities to learn about pollution standards and take action to create a healthier environment. I would like to thank ACTS for their many years of advocacy for public health standards and their steadfast dedication to ensure meaningful results for these Houston communities.”

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) said, “I am pleased to join the EPA in announcing the $500,000 award to the Achieving Community Task Successfully (ACTS), critical funding that prioritizes environmental justice and works to end harms to vulnerable communities. As the Representative of the 18th Congressional District of Texas, I have been committed to helping create a better quality of life for the constituents of my district – passionately working on issues involving cancer clusters, air pollution, and the hazards of major industries impacting Houston neighborhoods. Houston has been unfortunately impacted by high levels of air pollution that have disproportionately impacted Black and brown communities. And so again, today I congratulate ACTS for their work to help monitor hazardous air pollution in some of the communities that I represent, specifically, Pleasantville, Sunnyside, Fifth Ward, and Galena Park.”

“I am proud that the EPA is investing $500,000 in the City of Houston for their community air monitoring projects,” said Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia (TX-29). “I’m grateful that more federal funds are coming into our neighborhoods. “When we invest in air quality monitoring, educate our communities, and prioritize solutions, our community can begin to take steps towards a clean and healthy place to thrive. The Biden-Harris Administration is demonstrating not only that information is power, but that power should be in the hands of the people by investing in citizen science and community air monitoring networks. These federal funds are just the latest example of legislation we passed in Congress, like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. Everyone deserves access to clean and healthy air.”

“I am honored to have supported the Inflation Reduction Act, helping Houston secure nearly $500,000 in grant funding distributed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This critical funding among other things will address the environmental injustices in Sunnyside, Texas, a historically Black community disproportionately affected by pollution from nearby landfills,” stated Congressman Al Green (TX-9). “By channeling this grant towards improving air quality with community monitoring devices, we not only combat toxic emissions but empower historically marginalized communities like Sunnyside. This initiative stands as a beacon of environmental justice, promoting awareness and equitable health outcomes for all residents.”

“Achieving Community Tasks Successfully is honored to lead this effort on behalf of the Data to Action Houston groups” said Bridgette Murray, Founder and Executive Director of ACTS. “Each of our respective communities is currently monitoring air quality with low-cost sensors. This grant will allow us to expand information being monitored and to interact more directly with local, state, and federal agencies.”

“The Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice at Texas Southern University is excited about the EPA funding focused on expanding the community air monitoring capacity of the Data to Action Houston groups to measure and educate residents about place-based air quality in their communities,” said Dr. Denae King, Associate Director at the Bullard Center for Environmental & Climate Justice at Texas Southern University.

“We’re thrilled to see this historic federal investment build on years of close collaboration,” said Dr. Grace Tee Lewis, Senior Health Scientist with Environmental Defense Fund. “This funding is a significant opportunity to advance climate justice and equity, generate essential data and equip communities and government leaders to work together toward cleaner, healthier air for everyone.”

This grant funding is expected to accomplish several goals over a three-year period. The main goal is to monitor air pollutants that are a health and environmental concern for local communities. In the first year, ACTS will establish a mobile air monitoring campaign to address community exposures to air toxics such as ethylene oxide, 1,3-butadiene, formaldehyde, and acrolein. The campaign will consist of a 20-day baseline survey and use low-cost sensors, analytic and visualization tools to expand the capacity to include neighboring communities.

The campaign will also monitor concentrations of urban air toxics in residential areas and near “super emitter” industrial facilities in Harris County, which includes Houston. In years two and three, ACTS will conduct surveys to gauge the effect of the air monitoring project and will organize a community outreach project designed to broaden knowledge on air pollutants. ACTS will share the data gathered from the surveys and air campaign with local government leaders and nearby communities. By the conclusion of the project, ACTS expects several outcomes and actions: broadening air monitoring coverage in the community to better understand community exposure, increase understanding of complex mixtures of urban air toxics and cumulative exposure impacts to health, educating residents about air pollution exposures and health impacts in their neighborhoods, and creating a community-owned data repository of criteria for pollutants and air toxics.

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