Community Stakeholder Priorities

The Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee (CSTAC) represents a diverse group of stakeholders, including grassroots community based organizations and coalitions, California State agencies such as the California Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Public Health. The CSTAC communicates the concerns and priorities of various constituent groups and, in collaboration with the Community Engagement Core, facilitates bi-directional communication between scientists and stakeholders. The Community Engagement Core (CEC) provides assistance to researchers by connecting them with community partners for community-engaged (Type 2) research proposals. Applicants with expertise in research areas relevant to community concerns are encouraged to contact Dr. Karen Andrade (, as early as possible in the development of their proposals.

The CSTAC has identified the following issues as priorities for the 2017 Call for Pilot Projects. Items with ** have been identified as high priority issues for the current call.


**Concern P1: Pesticides may not be adequately measured and monitored.

  • Analyze how pesticide air levels at DPR’s Air Monitoring Network sites correlate with pesticide use and weather conditions in the area surrounding each site (for example, whether or not downwind from fields). Use data found to evaluate need for different placement of monitors.
  • Measure health effects and correlate with actual measured pesticide levels at various distances from an application site. Compile and summarize research showing the relationship of site of pesticide exposure to health effect

**Concern P2: Pesticide use near schools.

  • Define the type and sources of pesticides at or near schools. Conduct air sampling, dust sampling and/or biological monitoring at schools, daycare centers, and/or other sensitive sites to determine the measured levels of pesticides.  Provide updated data that expands the California Department of Public Health’s 2014 schools report and informs on the relationship between recent pesticide applications and actual measured levels at school sit
  • Determine the relationship of high and low levels of pesticides in school with academic performance and/or student health problem

**Concern P3: Pesticides are creating health effects that increase costs to the State of California. These costs have not been defined.

  • Define the health care costs of health effects of pestici Include costs over the full pesticide life cycle.
  • There is particular interest in neurodevelopmental damage

Concern P4:  Fumigants are contributing to climate change.

  • Define how fumigants may contribute to climate change in the California Central Valley and determine the potential impact of this amount of change on human healt Determine the impact of fumigants on climate change (e.g. direct contributions to greenhouse gases etc.), including an analysis of the full climate life cycle of fumigants.
  • Determine whether use of fumigants is increasing or decreasing and whether this is related to climate change

**Concern P5: Is pesticide exposure is related to cancer and/or neurodevelopmental harm in the San Joaquin Valley?

  • Identify if exposure to pesticides is contributing to cancer clusters in the Central Valley.
  • Determine if there are cancer clusters in the Central Valley, and relate these to pesticide exposures. Identify the sources of
  • Is there a relationship between fumigant exposure and cancer?
  • Is there a relationship between OP exposure and autism?

**Concern P6:  Determine the potential health effects of being exposed to a mixture of pesticides.

  • Nearly all studies focus on the health effects of exposure to just one pestici Research could look at the health effects of combined exposure to defined pesticides in test animals or could evaluate unknown chemical mixtures for health effects. Pesticides of interest should be defined based on actual usage patterns, or measured levels, or samples from Central Valley communities that may have substantial pesticide exposure. Determine the level of exposure to endocrine disrupting pesticides, or other pesticides, in water, air and/or soil.


Concern A1: The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) and related climate change investments on air quality have differential impacts in disadvantaged communities (DACs). What is the relationship between GHG reduction efforts and health effects of Criteria Air Pollutants?

  • What are spatial patterns of impacts (positive and negative) on air pollution in and around DACs from GGRF-funded projects in the San Joaquin Valley? What are the potential health effects of specific projects (biomass facilities, anaerobic co-digesters and dairy digesters) on low-income communities of color in the San Joaquin Valley? Compare and contrast these effects with the effect of a changing climate on air quality due to wildfire smoke in the same communiti
  • Does CalEnviroScreen 2.0 adequately identify and prioritize disadvantaged communities for climate adaptation programs? Tracking specific community-scale GGRF Investments and types of projects funded in DACs to determine whether pollution reduction is occurring as estimated and/or assess extent to which GGRF investments actually increase air pollution burden for disadvantaged communities, especially projects like biomass facilities, anaerobic co-digesters and dairy digesters.

**Concern A2: Are there ways to reduce risk for huge very polluting fires that are both cost-effective and acceptable to mountain communities and conservationists?

  • Alternatively, can we learn more about how smoke from these large fires influences health of persons and livestock and are there new strategies to reduce these impacts?

**Concern A3: Analysis of the lifecycle GHG and criteria pollutant emissions from different biomass utilization pathways: mulching, compost, gasification, pyrolysis, open burning, etc. Analysis would include how close operations are to densely populated areas and their effect on health.

**Concern A4: Study identifying proximity of different communities to stationary sources of air pollution- how many tons of different pollutants is too much to live next to? To live 5 miles from? A lot of research has been on near-road proximity, but what about-near-facility?


** Concern W1. Unknown, or undefined, health impacts to communities from exposure to nitrate- contaminated water. Stakeholders have concern about nitrates in water, specifically this concern centers on agricultural pollution (as opposed to leaky septic tanks, etc).

  • In addition to general health concerns regarding nitrate exposure, there is specific concern about nitrate-exposure and cancer prevalence. Determine if there are cancer clusters in the Central Valley and relate these to exposure to nitrate-contaminated water. Identify the sources of the
  • There is a need to define the actual (as opposed to the possible) health impacts from exposure to nitrate-contaminated water. This could include well monitoring and nitrate-based fertilizer application information, including an assessment of whether this information provides an adequate basis for understanding the actual nitrate-based fertilizer used and discharged into the environment. Correlate measured nitrate levels with public health outcom Determine if records of fertilizer use correlate with measured nitrate levels and potentially design improved methods for monitoring. Create tools to help communities monitor and understand their risks, and develop methods to test at home for nitrates in water.
  • Define the possible health effects of co-exposures to nitrate and uranium. Determine if the presence of nitrate in soil and water exacerbates health impacts of uranium contamination in water, where the two co-occur. New research has shown that even naturally occurring uranium becomes more bio-available where it co-occurs with nitrat Identify where these contaminants either do, or are likely to, co-occur in the Central Valley. Measure levels and then define possible health impacts.
  • Many communities and households affected by nitrate do not know about their risk of exposure or do not have the tools to evaluate the consequent risks to healt Determine the prevalence and severity of these impacts of nitrate-contaminated water in terms of geographic distribution. How does exposure to nitrate contaminated water affect potentially vulnerable populations, i.e., women of child-bearing age, children, fetuses, the elderly, people with  disabilities, socioeconomically disadvantaged, etc.?
  • What is the effect of climate change on human exposure to nitrate-contaminated water? What are the current and projected health effects of a changing climate due to changes in nitrate use, as well as water concentration?

Concern W2: Limited access to safe, clean and affordable water impacts the health and well-being of school children of the California Central Valley.

  • How many California schools, including potentially, daycare centers, primary, secondary, etc., lack reliable access to safe, clean, affordable water? What geographic regions and communities are most  affected  by  reduced  access  to  water  that  is  clean  and  affordable?  Does this disproportionally target communities of low socioeconomic status?
  • Where safe water is not available, what are the health impacts of this lack of availability on quality of life and/or quality of school instruction? Are there opportunity costs to the school in terms of core instruction, i.e., lack of updated technology, old books, facilities in disrepair, etc., and/or other services provided to the students, i.e., after school programs, extra curricular activities, field trips, tutoring, etc. because of the need to focus on obtaining sufficient supplies of safe clean water?

Concern W3: Reduced access to safe clean and affordable water impacts the health and well-being of communities of the California Central Valley.

  • Examine health-related economic impacts where there is a lack of potable water due to water contamination or drought. What are the impacts of the additional cost of replacement water on time spent sick and/or collecting water, diminished performance of children at school and adults at work and other factors? Conduct an accounting of the costs of water contamination in terms of health outcomes or reduced ability to pay for health care. Project impacts over the life cycle of a contaminant and examine solutions to meet these challenges. How does climate change impact these costs?
  • Where water contamination is an issue, define the level of contamination and the source.
  • Improve understanding of drinking water contamination from various sourc This includes, but is not limited to, agricultural sources (synthetic fertilizer, pesticide, fungicide runoff from application sites) or residential or other community based sources. Unusual concentrations of naturally occurring elements due to drought and that may be hazardous to health could also be considered.
  • Determine the level of exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals in community water suppli
  • Consider the nature of the contaminant and its persistence in the environment over tim If a source can be identified, compile and summarize research at the site and within the community before and after use at the source.
  • Cumulative health impacts from exposure to water contaminated with mixtures are poorly understood. Nearly all studies focus on the health effects of exposure to just one contaminant. Research could look at the health effects of combined exposure to defined contaminants but this should be based on realistic exposure scenarios found in the California Central Valley. Integrate across multiple exposures to create an understanding of overall impact of contaminated water. Is there a way to test mixtures from actual community water sources? One option is to partner with private well testing program
  • Assess potential for exposure and develop risk assessment toolkit for public education and acti Develop an affordable and easy-to-use well and/or tap water quality testing kit.

Concern W4: Health risks from methylated mercury in fish consumed for subsistence by low-income people and people of color in the Sacramento/ San Joaquin Delta.

  • What are the patterns of subsistence fish consumption in the Sacramento/ San Joaquin Delta that might be putting Spanish-speaking immigrants and other fishers at risk?
  • What are the locations, fish species, and environmental conditions that pose the highest risks?
  • What are the specific health risks associated with these use patterns?
  • Determine effective methods of health education and outreach that can reduce consumption of methyl mercury contaminated fish.

 **Concern W5: A study characterizing the relationship of manganese to organic compounds and arsenic in drinking water. This combination occurs regularly in Californian communities, including in places like East Palo Alto (Bay Area) and Maywood (SoCal), where EJCW (CSTAC member) has strong community partners.

  • Quote from article above: “We need further studies to ascertain reports that increased infant mortality rates might be linked to high levels of manganese in drinking water,” Datta said. “The joint effect of manganese and arsenic is definitely causing a level of harm that should be under deep scrutiny for the near future not just in India, but in other parts of the world where drinking water quality is an issue.