PloNo Santa Ana! - Background
Santa Ana is facing lead contamination crisis 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 400 parts per million (ppm) is defined as soil lead hazard in areas where children are present. However, the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment has deemed that level too dangerous for children, and therefore lowered its soil lead risk standard to 80ppm in 2009. Despite having evidence to prove such consequences, the state fails to set the 80ppm a state regulation. Furthermore, the state does not adequately enforce lead testing in children and much less monitor the situation. Leaving low income brown children at high risk of unregulated lead exposure and poisoning.

 

The City of Santa Ana is facing a soil lead contamination crisis that is disproportionately impacting lower income, people of color communities. Due to lack of adequate lead testing in children, adults, and soil, Santa Ana residents are living in unmonitored hotspots levels exceeding both state AND federal guidelines.

 

Samples were collected throughout residential, industrial, school, park, and roadway land use zones. From the samples collected and tested, all land use types had samples exceeding both state and federal guidelines, except school zones; school zone samples tested below state levels.

 

Lead can have severe consequences on a child's brain, nervous system, and learning development. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there is NO SAFE BLOOD LEVEL of lead in children. For further research and finding on consequences of lead on children, please click here to redirect you to a page of resources.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OCEJ partnered with University of California of Irvine Department of Public Health, UCI Community Resilience, & Jovenes Cultivando Cambios (Youth Cultivating Changes) to collect soil samples back in 2018. Together we conducted a community-based participatory research to research the distribution of soil lead contamination in Santa Ana. Our findings were published in Science of Total Environment journal: Social and spatial distribution of soil lead concentrations in the City of Santa Ana, California: Implications for health inequities. In summary, we found that the soil lead contamination is disproportionately impacting communities with: ​

  • People of color 

  • Lower median household income 

  • Lower % of college educated residents

  • Higher proportions of renters

  • Higher fraction of residents without health insurance 

  • Residents with immigrant status background

  • Limited English proficiency

  • Latine/Latin@ Hispanic residents

 

This soil lead contamination crisis is not a new finding or a coincidence that it is affecting the most marginalized communities. It is the result of state and county neglect from proper testing, monitoring, remediation, and patient treatment. It is the result of historic systemic oppression that often manifests itself into poor city management of general funds. OCEJ understands that this is an intersectional, social justice issue that impacts our community, so we are fighting for annual blood and soil lead testing, remediation treatment, health care access, and tenant rights. 

We want to ensure testing is improved on the individual and soil basis to better monitor & investigate the situation at hand. In a country where universal health care is a privilege & in a city where a significant % of residents have immigrant backgrounds, we are advocating for health care access to Santa Ana residents. Especially to those who have been exposed to or poisoned by lead. Lastly, we are advocating for tenant rights because we are aware testing and remediation processes are costly that may impact costs of living.  We want to ensure renters & home owners are confident to proceed with remediation efforts without the fear of losing their homes.

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Figure 1: Interpolated soil Pb concentrations based on 1528 samples collected in Santa Ana

Masri S, LeBrón A, Logue M, Valencia E, Ruiz A, Reyes A, Lawrence JM, Wu J. Social and spatial distribution of soil lead concentrations in the City of Santa Ana, California: Implications for health inequities. Science of The Total Environment. 2020 Nov 15;743:140764.

What are the harmful effects of lead exposure?
How is OCEJ involved?
Soil Lead Contamination Levels
Samples were collected throughout residential, industrial, school, park, and roadway land use zones. From the samples collected and tested, all land use types had samples exceeding both state and federal guidelines, except school zones; school zone samples tested below state levels as seen in Figure 2. This data collection can be found and referenced in Science of Total Environment journal: Social and spatial distribution of soil lead concentrations in the City of Santa Ana, California: Implications for health inequities. 
 

In addition, the state recommendation was

exceeded by 751 soil samples, and the EPA standard by 60 samples. With a total of 811 samples tested unsafe for children.

 

Further shown in Table 1 below, the federal standard for non-play area soil (1200 ppm) was exceeded by 10 soil samples, eight of which were found in residential areas that could serve as play areas for children. As a fraction of samples collected within a single land use type, roadway and residential samples exceeded the 400 ppm EPA standard, whereas the 1200 ppm standard was exceeded most frequently by samples collected in the roadway and industry land use areas.

Thanks to such data collection and analysis, the study was able to conclude 3 major findings: 

More than half of residential samples (51.8%) exceeded California State guideline for lead and another 4% exceeded federal EPA guideline. This is significant because it presents early life exposure in areas children are most likely present. Children are also the most vulnerable to lead exposure and poisoning.

Results show strong pattern of greater vulnerability for communities with lower socioeconomic status. Further emphasizing how this soil lead crisis is a environmental and social justice concern.

Census tracts with a higher fraction of immigrant, limited or non-English speaking, and Latine/ Latin@ Hispanic residents exhibited considerably higher average lead concentrations.

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Figure 2: Boxplots describing lead soil concentrations across samples collected by land use types. The symbols “X” denote sample means while the overlying values indicate sample sizes. The California recommendation for play areas with children (80 ppm), and U.S. EPA standards for areas where children play (400 pmm) and other uncovered areas (1200 ppm) for soil Pb are presented as dotted lines.

Masri S, LeBrón A, Logue M, Valencia E, Ruiz A, Reyes A, Lawrence JM, Wu J. Social and spatial distribution of soil lead concentrations in the City of Santa Ana, California: Implications for health inequities. Science of The Total Environment. 2020 Nov 15;743:140764.

Table 1:

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Masri S, LeBrón A, Logue M, Valencia E, Ruiz A, Reyes A, Lawrence JM, Wu J. Social and spatial distribution of soil lead concentrations in the City of Santa Ana, California: Implications for health inequities. Science of The Total Environment. 2020 Nov 15;743:140764.

Getting involved with PloNo Santa Ana

Santa Ana General Plan

The City of Santa Ana is updating their General Plan (GP). A General Plan is basically the blueprint of land development (dictates what land will be used for what and how) and every city has one of their own.  A GP tends to be updated anywhere between 5-40 years, but there is no set state regulation by when a city should update it; it all depends on when the city believes it is appropriate. Each General Plan must include and discuss 7 mandated elements (Land Use, Open Space, Conservation, Housing, Circulation, Noise, and Safety) with the new addition of Environmental Justice (SB1000).  Therefore, OCEJ sought this update as the perfect window of opportunity to include policy language for lead testing, soil remediation, and providing health care access to impacted residents. 

If you are interested in providing further comments visit Santa Ana's website to attend a local Environmental Justice Workshop by clicking HERE.

 

The city is also providing a community survey on the environment (and a chance to win $100 from them!), click HERE to fill it out. YOUR VOICE MATTERS.

 

You may also check in with out community organizer, Keila Villegas (keila@ocej.org) for further questions, guidance, comments, or concerns. 

OCEJ's PloNo Santa Ana Subcommittee

Legislative negotiations take time, up to several months. in the meantime, OCEJ members are continuing to spreading awareness on the matter and getting residents and allies involved. And you can too! Join our next subcommittee meeting by registering HERE. Meetings tend to occur weekly on Mondays 6-7pm with the exception of Membership Meetings that tend to occur every 3rd Monday of the month.  

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To learn more visit City of Santa Ana website on the General Plan Update. & check our their flyer below!

Source: City of Santa Ana Website

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