For Immediate Release


Beyond the Red Dots 

Oakland Ca., -  The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has released information on a yearlong study from 2015-2016, in which EDF collaborated with Google Street View Cars, and others to map and measure air quality within a 6-square mile area in East OaklandFitted with air quality monitors, Google cars traversed the streets of East Oakland in areas west of the I-880 freeway to the I-580 freeway and from 73rd Ave. to just below Dutton Ave. in San Leandro. The EDF website displays a map of East Oakland data represented by dots varying in color, from yellow to red, with red showing the highest concentrations of air pollution like Nitric Oxide and Nitrogen Dioxide, which is released by burning fossil fuels like gasoline and is associated with heavy traffic. The map also shows high levels of Black Carbon, another name for Diesel Particulate Matter, which the state of California itself admits causes cancer. All these dots indicate the environmental impacts and health risks that East Oakland communities live with daily. The EDF and Google study may be new to East Oakland, and bring with it name recognition but documentation of the pollution and impacts in Black, Brown, Indigenous, People of Color communities, living beyond these red dots, have been mapped, measured, and accessed before by the community itself. 

In September 2008, CBE released a report titled Cumulative Impacts in East Oakland: Findings from a Community-Based Mapping Study. According to the report, trained community leaders generated a list of hazards (potential sources of air pollution) near sensitive receptors identified as areas often used by those particularly susceptible to disease like children and elderlyEquipped with handheld particulate matter and volatile organic compound monitors, community leaders walked their streets conducting the first phase that would map the sources of pollution near the “Hegenberger Corridor”, which CBE defines as Hegenberger Rd. to 98th Ave. and from International Blvd. to San Leandro St. This area is within the larger area mapped by Google cars almost a decade later.  

Findings from the first phase of mapping led to a more specific study, looking at known sources of particulate matter, in particular, Black CarbonIn September 2010, CBE released it's Diesel Truck Survey Report and later it's Diesel Truck Study Summary, in which community members tracked the volume of diesel trucks throughout the Hegenberger Corridor and communities within it. CBE and community members found a high concentration of diesel trucks in the corridor routed from the Port of Oakland, I-880 freeway, right through their neighborhoods, emitting cancer-causing pollution near schools and homes. A detailed report shows community logging thousands of daily diesel truck trips. 

Although up-to-date mapping and measuring air quality and pollution in neighborhoods like East Oakland is imperative, CBE empowers and educates the people directly affected by pollution, the lives beyond the red dots and on the frontline, so they have the power and knowledge to advocate for change. The community members who participated in these studies can then use their experience, knowledge, and assessment of the data they collected to advocate for their communities with city planners, city council, commission boards, policy makers locally and statewide. They are also the people who will go back to these same neglected and overburdened neighborhoods compounded by social stressors and do it again the next day.  

In future projects, CBE urges groups and corporations like EDF and Google to engage in community-based participatory research (CBPR) that partners with community members to allow an equitable contribution with community members like Cesar and Marina Fragoso, a mother, and son who live within EDF’s mapped area. The Fragoso’s have participated in CBPR before around air quality and odor within their communityAlso, Cesar went, with other community leaders, to Sacramento lobbying for Environmental Justice priority bills to strengthen climate and air quality regulations and improve conditions in communities like East Oakland. Data alone does not push for policy change or tougher environmental restrictions it is people who make the change. These people, who live in poor communities of color are calling out for better city planning, transparent development, and healthier communities. They deserve to be included in processes that will ultimately affect their lives. From data collection, assessment, measuring, mapping and ongoing tracking simply because they will use this data to lobby, advocate and push policy forward because data alone does not speak for them, they use the data to help speak for themselves.


           The study by EDF- High-Resolution Air Pollution Mapping with Google Street View Cars: Exploiting Big Data: 

CONTACT: Communities for a Better Environment (CBE), Esther Goolsby, East Oakland Community Organizer, Cell:510-686-3307 Work:510-302-0430 x24