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Environmental Justice

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Dwellings -- Environmental aspects, Housing and health -- Oregon -- Portland, Public health -- Oregon -- Portland Metropolitan Area, Public health -- Research -- Citizen participation


This article will review lessons learned from a community-based participatory research project with Latino and Somali residents in Portland, Oregon. The aim of the Healthy Futures Collaborative (HFC) project was to reduce in-home environmental health hazards associated with childhood respiratory illness and asthma through a process that strengthened social support and civic engagement. Using a community-based approach, the HFC trained community residents as community scientists to ensure local leadership and participation. Results suggest an increase in Somali and Latino residents' knowledge of environmental stressors and changes in behavior that may improve indoor environmental quality. Especially when working with historically marginalized communities, a model that acknowledges power differentials and responds to community-identified priorities is a powerful model for addressing environmental injustices. For example, the project was able to address both behavioral and structural components of housing and poor indoor environmental quality by providing workshops on green cleaning and tenants' rights. Yet, the participatory structure presents unique challenges-including issues of representation and distributive justice-challenges that may be exacerbated in cross-cultural projects with multiple racial/ethnic groups.


This is a copy of an article published in Environmental Justice © 2010 [copyright Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.]; and is available online at:



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