YUTEP Toxic Tour

On Wednesday, March 23rd, Pacoima Beautiful’s youth group, Youth United Towards Environmental Protection (YUTEP), participated in a toxic tour around the communities of Pacoima, and Sun Valley. The toxic tour  was an opportunity to teach the youth about the environmental injustice in their immediate surroundings. The toxic tour allowed the youth to explore the different toxic sites within the community  and discuss their impacts on the environment and  the health of residents. Youth became aware of the high concentration of toxic sources and high levels of pollution  by discovering various establishments such as auto dismantling shops, manufacturing plants, metal and asphalt recycling facilities, and landfills. Most importantly, youth learned about cumulative impacts, and how the high concentration of multiple toxic sources within their community contributed to a myriad of environmental and public health issues. Similarly, youth learned about the dangers associated with areas of heavy industrial operations alongside residential areas. In response, many youth shared their personal stories of how the poor conditions of their environment directly affected their quality of life, such as their vulnerability to health issues including asthma, obesity and developmental impairments.

Following the tour, students had time to reflect on what they had just seen. When asked "What things were affecting the health of their families and of the community?", youth responded with the following:

  • High levels of pollution cause health problems. 
  • Being impacted by the high concentration of auto dismantler shops that pollute the air and soil. 
  • The cumulative impacts of environmental burdens in the community.
  • The release of toxic gases from surrounding factories. 
  • The multiple freeways and train tracks intersecting the community. 
  • Factories entwined in residential areas polluting the air quality of surrounding families.”

During the tour students also saw examples of successful remediation, development and reutilization. Plaza Pacoima and Bradley Plaza were highlighted as positive developments striving to mitigate the environmental burdens faced by the community. Positive things youth observed in their community were: bike paths, transportation opportunities, art (murals), various non-profits, , Bradley Plaza, green areas, gardens and parks.

The youth would like to see clean streets to improve the appearance of their community, develop more parks and green open spaces, a reduction in the number of diesel trucks, improved sidewalk safety, better land use, and improved air quality.  Pacoima should set the example for other communities to have a better quality of life and change the attitude of industries/individuals in the area that are polluting the community.

On April 20, 2016 YUTEP will host the Pacoima Youth Environmental Justice Forum where they will inform community members of the pollution burdens and environmental vulnerabilities in our neighborhoods and offer solutions on how individuals can lower their risk and improve their quality of life. The event is free and open to the public. You may register by using the following link: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/pacoimas-youth-environmental-justice-forum-p...