Frequent Questions

What Is Your Role?

Learn about the community in which you are working. How familiar are you with its population? For example, are there people who don't speak English well, people who can't read, or people who are shut in? Will work schedules keep people from attending community meetings?

Did you know that 32 million (14 percent) of the people in the U.S. speak a language other than English at home? For example in California, 0.6 million people speak Chinese and 5.5 million speak Spanish at home. Over 17 million (8 percent) of the people living in the U.S. speak Spanish at home.

Are announcements and information of special interest to non-English speakers, such as fish advisories and Superfund site fact sheets, available in the native language needed to reach the most impacted people? What is the requirement to reach the most impacted people? How diverse is the community?

Consider Age. Inter-generational equity means that younger or older generations should not bear a greater environmental burden. Children are especially vulnerable to harm from toxic substances and may be exposed through normal play. Is there a relatively high population of children in the community? Do children play outdoors where they may come in contact with contaminated soil and water?

Understand cultural diversity. Many cultural groups depend upon fishing to augment their diet either because of poverty or tradition. Of the 250 million Americans, 49 million (20 percent) are African American, American Indian, or Asian American; 22 million (9 percent) are Hispanic American.

Poverty severely limits options and opportunities. Low income groups cannot always move away from undesirable places, do not have adequate health care and may suffer more exposure to environmental hazards.

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