By Eric Heinz
How are the Globeville, Elyria, and Swansea neighborhoods affected by pollutants? A study headed by Colorado State University researchers aims to find out.
The study is a product of a 2017 lawsuit that was filed to halt the expansion of I-70. It was filed on behalf of the Elyria Swansea Neighborhood Association, Colorado Latino Forum, and the Colorado chapter of the Sierra Club, although the suit didn’t have much of a chance to stop construction.
Instead, the plaintiffs sought a settlement, which resulted in the Colorado Department of Transportation agreeing to provide $500,000 a year for four years to conduct a health study. The study is a collaboration between CSU’s Environs program, a GES community council, and a steering committee.
The study has just begun its first phase of planning, community mapping, and other housekeeping objectives, and in subsequent phases it plans to analyze the data and create community education materials.
During a meeting in September with the community group working with researchers, Environs representatives said they will not set up new sampling stations for air pollution and other toxins, but instead they will gather historic data and community input to develop the results.
“What I’m collecting is any kind of data that has ever been studied in this community,” said Beth Lunsford, an environmental health Ph.D. student with CSU. “A lot of the historical stuff that I’ve found can date back as far as the ’80s, in terms of actual data points and references, all the way to now.”
Some of the data already collected showed that between 2013 and 2017 more GES residents had asthma than the rest of Denver, with GES having 1,176 residents per 10,000, and the rest of the city having 824 per 10,000. Other stats showed that in 2019, more than 33% of GES residents did not have health insurance compared to the rest of the city, which had an uninsured rate of 17.3%.
The next meeting of the GES Health Study is Oct. 18 at the CSU Terra building on the Spur campus, or accessible via zoom. Details of the meeting, plans, and future objectives can be found online at bit.ly/3M1207Z.