Community Engagement and Community-Centric Research Roadmap: Focus on Metals Related Toxic Emissions
Pre-proposal Solicitation Scope of Work
Despite achieving large reductions in ambient concentrations of air pollutants state-wide, many priority populations throughout the state experience higher than average exposures to pollutants. Community members and environmental justice advocates continue to highlight the need to investigate the source and substances associated with odor complaints and potential health impacts, and provide real-time data on toxic emissions from industrial and commercial sources. There is particular concern around toxic metal emissions from various industrial point sources like metal processing facilities, as well as concerns around sparse and infrequent sampling capabilities. In an effort to leverage community expertise and create a research project that is informed by the lived experience of community members, this project aims to engage with a community or communities to create a community-centric research roadmap that guides future research needs around community exposure to toxic pollutant emissions from industrial sources.
The objective of this research is to fund a community engagement project that will inform the development of a research roadmap. The research roadmap will inform future actions to investigate and reduce harmful exposures to toxic pollutants in individual communities. Topics for future research might include items related to emission sources and pollutants of concern, emission inventory, source testing or other methods of quantifying emissions and potential mitigation strategies. Funding has not been secured for a future project, however, the roadmap would provide guidance on future research needs that may be funded in future. The project lead will seek out partnerships with interested community representatives and relevant community organizations to identify community priorities and design a research roadmap to be funded and executed in future years. Note that any future research project related to the priorities set in the roadmap need to be approved by the Board. The project lead will also gather all available information and data into a white paper on metal-related toxic emission sources, community exposure, and mitigation strategies from the academic literature, government documents, and information already gathered from communities in past public meetings and engagement processes.
The deliverables of this study will include a white paper summarizing known metal-related emissions sources and any applicable air quality related health issues, a community engagement plan and execution of that plan, as well as a research roadmap created through engagement with the community. This engagement will help CARB develop informed research projects around sources of concern related to metal processing emissions or any source of toxic metal emissions. The engagement for this project will focus on specific communities, but the community-centric research roadmap will be applicable to a wide range of communities affected by similar point or area wide sources.
The California Air Resource Board (CARB) air toxics program aims to reduce exposure to air emissions of toxic chemicals for all Californians. There are several components to the program, including: identification and control of air toxic substances; public notification of significant toxics exposures and a process to reduce these risks; and addressing health impacts to communities, children, and other sensitive receptors. Legislation helping to shape CARB’s air toxics program include Assembly Bill (AB) 1807, the “Hot Spots” Information and Assessment Act (AB 2588), and most recently AB 617, the Community Air Protection Program. As a result of these efforts, 30,000 facilities have reduced their toxic emissions and overall, the state saw an 80% reduction in cancer risk since 1990. Several communities have also established community emission reduction plans that outline actions that stationary facilities and mobile sources can take to further reduce harmful air pollutants. Despite successful regulatory implementation leading to significant improvements in statewide air quality, many localized sources of pollutants persist and impact specific communities. Community advocates and members have brought various concerns to the CARB regarding industrial point sources, odors, and toxic emissions. Toxic pollutants are a high priority for CARB and more research is needed to understand emission sources, exposure impacts and the most effective emission reduction strategies.
Many metal processing facilities are found within or near communities. Their impacts can be highly localized and are not typically captured by the air monitoring networks established by state and local air districts. This is partly due to the statewide network not being designed to capture local impacts of facilities and are focused on criteria pollutants or particulate matter rather than toxics. As a result, measurements sites are spread out and sampling is relatively infrequent or scheduled in advance. Specific concerns around metal welding, plating, grinding, polishing, spraying, and other metal processes still exist. Although some of these activities have rules and regulations in place to limit emissions, some emissions sources may be uncontrolled, such as fugitive dust emissions or metal containing heated tanks. These uncontrolled emissions can impact communities located near these facilities. Some metal-related compounds of concern include, but are not limited to, hexavalent chromium, lead, cobalt, nickel, copper, arsenic, and cadmium.
CARB would like to explore strategies over the next few years to address these concerns and would like to better understand concerns from the community perspective and leverage their lived experience and expertise.
The objective of this study is to fund a community engagement project for communities interested in designing a research roadmap that could include future research priorities such as identifying sources, extent of community exposure, health impacts of exposure, and developing exposure mitigation strategies related to air toxics from metal processing type operations. The researcher shall identify a community interested in engaging on this topic and create and execute a community engagement plan. Throughout the engagement process, the researcher shall gather information from community members and advocates on their lived experience, their concerns, and their suggested research strategies. The researcher shall also summarize into a white paper the community input received to date, summarize what is known about local metal processing sources and emissions, current inventory needs and knowledge gaps, and examine past successes in community engagement around similar issues that led to mitigation actions. The final report of this project shall include: the white paper, the community engagement plan and summary of information gathered through engagement, a research roadmap that summarizes remaining research gaps and community research priorities. The research roadmap will inform future actions to investigate and reduce harmful exposures to toxic pollutants in individual communities.
III. Scope of Work
The proposed study shall be composed of the following tasks.
Task 1: White Paper - Literature review and compilation of public comments
The researcher will review and consolidate into a white paper all information on toxic exposure concerns from community members collected at CARB and air district public meetings. The researcher will also review and consolidate information on past community engagement efforts that led to mitigation of local industrial emissions concerns to gather lessons learned. Finally, the researcher shall compile all available information from the literature and from public documentation on toxic emissions from metal processing facilities, exposure levels, health risks and measurement methods.
Task 2: Identify interested community and work with local air districts
The researcher shall work with CARB AB 617 and Air Toxics Program staff and reach out to communities impacted by metal processing emissions to find a community interested in being a part of this community engagement project. Ideally, the researcher shall submit a pre-proposal with an established community partner. The air district which has jurisdiction over this community shall also be consulted. Through internal discussions and based on input collected from community members during various past public meetings, San Diego and some areas of Los Angeles are recommended as locations for this work. The Portside community in San Diego is already highly engaged and there are remaining public concerns around welding there. In Los Angeles, several community members have brought up concerns around industrial point sources in their communities. The researcher may work with one of these communities, or any community interested in engaging on this particular topic, and its local air district to implement Task 3.
Task 3: Develop and execute a community engagement plan
The project will develop and leverage a community engagement plan. The engagement plan will include proposed methods to reach out to the community, proposed meeting frequency and schedule, identification of language barriers and how they will be addressed, proposed facilitation methods, how input will be collected, how participation will be maximized and any other considerations toward accessibility. The plan must include elements that cultivate active participation and meaningful contribution from the community members and the community organizations in the development of the community-centric research roadmap. As such, the community engagement plan must be reviewed and approved by the communities before proceeding with the rest of the project. The decision to hold public meetings in-person or virtually will depend on the status of the state’s health and safety guidelines with considerations for any travel restrictions but more importantly on making the meetings as accessible as possible to community members. Consideration shall be given to internet access and other limitations such as typical community member schedules, transportation access and other access issues. Stipends for community engagement in furtherance of the scope of the project should be included in the budget. All public meetings must be recorded to accommodate individuals who are unable to attend the live sessions. The project must also provide opportunities for those individuals to comment and contribute to the discussions offline. All publicly accessible progress update meetings shall be held in coordination with CARB staff and community leaders. The community engagement plan and its implementation must be well-documented throughout the project.
The project will develop multiple interim documents and presentations that effectively summarize and interconnects the information gathered in this task. The project will leverage the interim documents and presentations during public progress update meetings to foster objective-oriented discussions with the community members as laid out in the community engagement plan. The information gathered during these meetings will be used to inform the community-centric research roadmap.
Task 4. Work with the communities to develop a list of research priorities with short- and long-term recommendations that address the community-scale research needs
The project will leverage and build on Tasks 1-3 to develop a list of air toxics research priorities in close coordination with the community members and community organizations. The research priorities must consider sources of concern such as local industries and businesses, emissions activity that combines information collected by the local air district and from community observations based on odors or potential health effects, and any research gaps on exposure, including information gaps related to activity patterns, health and emissions collected in Task 1. The research priorities must be well-justified and supported by science, as well as community voices. Each item on the list shall include short- and long-term recommendations, guidelines, and or strategies that can effectively and efficiently address the research needs in a way that equitably benefits communities impacted by these sources.
Task 5. Develop a community-centric research roadmap
The project will develop a comprehensive, well-vetted, and transparent report that summarizes and intertwines the community engagement plan and its implementation (Task 3), all available information on air toxics emissions and exposure (Task 1), and the list of research priorities with recommendations for future research pathways (Task 4). This report (i.e., the community-centric research roadmap) must include information that interconnects California’s existing air toxics control and mitigation strategies with valuable on-the-ground knowledge from communities that is reflective of people’s voices (i.e., the community) to maximize the benefits of future policies. The community-centric research roadmap will also identify synergy with CARB’s Triennial Strategic Research Plan to guide CARB’s future research activities. The community members and the community organizations must be well-informed and integrated throughout this process.
Task 6. Disseminate the information in coordination with the community
The community-centric research roadmap will be disseminated to all relevant parties in the form of a presentation at public meetings, weblinks, and or other outreach strategies. Such actions will be coordinated with CARB staff and the community to maximize the impact of the plan.
The project proposal must include but not be limited to the following deliverables:
At Pre-Proposal Stage
- Provide a cultural humility statement in the pre-proposal.
- Provide a description of relevant prior experience in community engagement in the pre-proposal.
At Beginning of Contract
- All researchers must undergo cultural competency training (examples include implicit bias training, racial equity training, etc.). Trainings should be completed or scheduled within 30 days of contract execution.
- Work with CARB staff at the beginning of the project to create a 1-page plain-language outreach deliverable for public describing the project’s goals, process, and planned deliverables (available in multiple languages, template will be provided).
During Active Contract Period
- Quarterly Progress Reports and conference calls; The progress reports will include plain-language summaries that can be posted publicly. A progress report template will be provided.
- Consultation calls with CARB and key stakeholders.
- Interim reports:
- Draft white paper
- Draft community engagement plan, reviewed and approved by community
Prior to Contract Close
- A draft final report that includes the following:
- Draft white paper compiling previous comments collected by CARB and the local air district, information on toxic emissions, exposure, health impacts, mitigation strategies, current data sources, etc. from the literature, government documents, and other appropriate sources.
- The final community engagement plan and summary of the outreach/community engagement activities.
- Draft community-centric research roadmap which includes the research priority list and policy recommendations; the draft community-centric research roadmap must undergo community peer-review.
- Include a plain language summary in draft final report.
- Include an equity implications section in draft final report.
- Work with CARB to create plain-language outreach deliverables for public summarizing results and impact of project (available in multiple languages).
- Final report and virtual or in-person seminar.
- Additional deliverables to be determined in consultation with CARB staff.
It is anticipated this project will be completed in 18 months from the start date. Cost shall not exceed $150,000.
1. Responsiveness to the Goals and Objectives Outlined in the Proposal Solicitation(15 points)
Proposers should demonstrate a clear understanding of the policy objectives and research needs that CARB seeks to address with this project, and should convey their knowledge of the subject. The proposal should spell out, in adequate detail, exactly what the Proposer proposes to do to satisfy the requirements of the Solicitation. The draft proposal must propose work that would satisfy the objective(s) stated in the Research Solicitation: The objective of this study is to fund a community engagement project for communities interested in setting research priorities related to identifying sources, understanding health impacts, and developing exposure mitigation strategies related to metal air toxics from industrial sources, particularly those related to metal processing.
2. Policy Relevance/Benefits to the State (10 points)
Does the proposal describe how the project will provide data, information, and/or products to help CARB accomplish its mission? Does the proposal demonstrate that the researcher understands CARB’s air toxics program and remaining issues and the value that impacted communities can bring to these efforts?
3. Previous Work (15 points)
Do the researchers have relevant experience in this area? Is the team composed of a multidisciplinary team of experts? Do they discuss how they will build upon previous relevant work that was funded by CARB, other state agencies, and any other organizations you believe are appropriate such as the local air districts? The relevant research partner should describe previous experience in community engagement and provide letters of support, references or a community impact statement, describing how previous work impacted communities. 5 points will be reserved for project teams that meet at least one of the following criteria:
- The project team is multi-disciplinary.
- The project team members come from various universities or include non-academic institutions or community-based organizations.
- The project team includes one or more members, contributing significantly to the project (i.e., a principal investigator, co-principal investigator or co-investigator, contributing 25% or more of their time to the project) who have not worked with CARB in the past 5 years.
4. Technical Merit (25 points)
Describe the submission's technical strengths and/or weaknesses. Proposers should demonstrate the logic and feasibility of the methodology and technical approach to the project, spell out the sequence and relationships of major tasks, and explain methods for performing the actual work. Please factor in how well the draft proposal describes these areas:
- Does the researcher demonstrate an understanding of the issues facing local communities and how they are impacted by current regulations and monitoring efforts?
- Does the researcher demonstrate that they know how to build relationships and engage in active listening during facilitation and do they have a plan on how to implement those skills to maximize the effectiveness of engagement meetings?
- Does the researcher have an effective plan to reach out to the various stakeholders involved?
- Does the proposed work address all the deliverables required in section “Deliverables”? If not, the proposal should not be considered for funding.
- The review team will be selecting only one draft proposal for development into a full proposal. If this draft proposal has potential, what areas or topics should be prioritized or better explained in the full proposal?
5. Level and Quality of Effort to be Provided (15 points)
Does the proposal allocate time and resources in such a way that the objectives of the study will be met? Is supervision and oversight adequate for ensuring that the project will remain on schedule? Is the distribution of workload appropriate for activities such as research, evaluation and analysis, data reduction and synthesis, report preparation, meetings, translation services, science communication and travel?
6. Cost Effectiveness (20 points)
Does the cost seem appropriate for the proposed work? Does the proposed work seem feasible within the requested budget? Projects that provide co-funding should be evaluated more favorably.
 “Priority populations” collectively refer to disadvantaged communities, low-income communities, and low-income households. Refer to the following document: Fiscal Year 2020-21 Priority Population Targets