Health Impact Assessment co-author: Jonathan Childers

JONATHAN A. CHILDERS, MPH, MURP

PhD Student - UW College of Built Environments

My professional and educational background spans environmental science, urban and regional planning, and public health. My current transdisciplinary practice and research interests center around political ecology, urbanism, and wellbeing. For more information, see my curriculum vitae or my personal website: healthycology.wordpress.com.

Contact information

Email (primary contact): | Phone: 206.426.6040

Research: Health Impact Assessment for the Duwamish Cleanup Plan
The Duwamish River serves the needs of a mixed industrial and residential area in Seattle and King County, WA. Past and present activities have contaminated the shoreline, sediments, resident fish, and shellfish. Due to health risks from exposure to this contamination, in 2001-2002, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Washington Department of Ecology listed the Lower Duwamish Waterway as a priority site for cleanup under the federal Superfund law and Washington’s Model Toxics Control Act. Given its environmental, social, cultural and economic implications, the Lower Duwamish Superfund Cleanup may result in a variety of unintended health consequences. Accordingly, the University of Washington, in collaboration with the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition/Technical Advisory Group (DRCC/TAG) and Just Health Action conducted a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of the EPA’s proposed Cleanup plan. In addition to serving as a collaborating or reviewing author on all Duwamish HIA reports, I have had the following primary responsibilities for the HIA project:


Lead author, Assessment and Recommendations Technical Report: Effects of the proposed cleanup plan on local residents - Revitalization and Gentrification

Abstract: A major portion of the Duwamish HIA examined potential health effects of Cleanup-spurred reinvestment, revitalization, and gentrification in the residential communities of Georgetown and South Park. We found that gentrification is already underway in these communities, and the Cleanup could substantially worsen the related health risks for vulnerable populations. In collaboration with community advisors, we identified and prioritized tools for promoting more equitable revitalization, and made associated recommendations to the EPA and other agencies responsible for the Cleanup and its direct and indirect consequences.

Lead author, Engaging Environmental Democracy – Tracing the Impact of the Duwamish HIA: Evaluation via Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Abstract: To evaluate the impact of the Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of the Proposed Cleanup Plan for the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site, this study used a cross-sectional design and qualitative analysis to investigate opinions and attitudes of Cleanup decision makers and stakeholders. Study participants included members of the HIA’s Liaison Committee, Resident Community Advisory Committee, and Tribal Community Advisory Committee, as well as other pertinent respondents identified via the knowledge of the committee participants. Anonymized opinions regarding impacts of the HIA were gathered through semi-structured key informant interviews and focus group discussions with 18 total participants. Collected qualitative data were analyzed following the general framework of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Through identification of emergent and superordinate themes in their responses, participants were found to have perceived a common set of HIA impacts involving characterization of the proposed cleanup decision and its implications; empowerment of vulnerable stakeholders; influence on stakeholders’ and decision makers’ disposition toward issues around the focal decision; and production of material results. Interpretation of respondents’ experiential insights proved useful for characterizing the role of the Duwamish HIA in environmental democracy, and for illuminating related prospects for achieving greater environmental justice in this location and other contexts.

Secondary author, Assessment and Recommendations Technical Report: Effects of the proposed cleanup plan on health of workers and employment in Lower Duwamish area industries. See Part A (report) and Part B (evidence base and references).

Abstract: Employment supports health and wellbeing. Businesses in the Duwamish Valley already face gentrification and competitive pressures that threaten the future of family wage jobs. The Duwamish Cleanup might add to those pressures. However, businesses and employment also could benefit substantially, if the Cleanup revitalizes industry and economy. This is most likely to happen if there are broad-based, collaborative planning efforts. In addition, the Cleanup will generate millions of dollars in construction jobs and business revenue. Hiring local companies and workers will help keep the health benefits of cleanup jobs in Seattle and King County. Cleanup job training and placement assistance should be provided for local residents who are most impacted by the site.

Acknowledgments and Disclaimer: The Health Impact Assessment for the Duwamish Cleanup Plan is supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts; and also by the Rohm & Haas Professorship in Public Health Sciences, sponsored by the Rohm & Haas Company of Philadelphia. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Health Impact Project, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, or the Rohm & Haas Company.