The project provides out bilingual pollution prevention technical assistance through on-site visits and workshops to small business sectors in our environmental justice community utilizing a community health worker intervention. It is aimed at reducing worker exposure to volatile organic compounds at small business through source reduction. Our community-based approach is accepted by the small business community and will provides an enhanced opportunity to reduce the use of hazardous materials.
El Trabajo no te Debe Dañar: Reduction of Hazardous Exposures in Small Businesses through a Community Health Worker Intervention
Our team has received a National Institutes of Health Grant for “El Trabajo no te Debe Dañar: Reduction of Hazardous Exposures in Small Businesses through a Community Health Worker Intervention” to continue and expand the work under the pilot.
Through a community-engaged research framework we are: 1) quantifying and identifying exposures to hazardous chemicals in two high risk small business sectors common in our target area (auto body and mechanic shops and beauty salons); 2) working collaboratively with business owners, trade groups, and workers to design an industrial hygiene enhanced CHW intervention tailored for each small business sector; and 3) conducting a cluster randomized trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the CHW intervention at reducing workplace exposures to VOCs and assess which factors lead to successful utilization of exposure control strategies in both male and female dominated businesses. The interventions will overcome current barriers by helping marginalized Latino workers and small business owners who may have limited education, literacy, and computer skills to understand the hazards associated with their work, and will empower them to have greater control over their occupational exposures, with the ultimate goal of preventing occupational disease and reducing health disparities.
The team has already quantified actual pre-intervention VOC exposures at 18 small businesses using real-time photoionization detectors at parts per billion level, recorded activity logs of each worker’s job tasks for their entire work shift, and used a stationary monitor to measure the concentration of 61 individual VOCs in the workplace air. We have conducted site audits at the businesses to document VOC sources (e.g., VOC-generating materials and processes, quantity and type of chemicals used), existing engineering controls (e.g., ventilation, fume hoods), administrative controls (e.g., job rotation, housekeeping, worker training), and personal protective equipment (e.g., respirator, gloves).