Communities are disproportionally exposed to toxic chemicals especially in developing countries, with vulnerable groups, such as pregnant women and children at greater risk. Toxic chemicals have been linked to disturbed immune response, neurological deficits, and metabolic disease (Vrijheid et al. 2016), with implications for environmental justice and global health. Resource limitations may preclude the assessment of toxic chemical levels due to the expense involved and limited local analytical capacity. At the same time, communities may be aware of their exposure and health effects but may lack tools for systematically describing this, or have insufficient knowledge on the health impacts, and are often powerless to prevent or reduce exposures.
Therefore, the efforts of civil society groups to pursue citizen science initiatives across Southeast and East Asia towards addressing pollution problems in their communities is crucial. Citizen science allows people and communities to participate in the collection and analysis of data relating to their natural world whether to make a direct contribution to research, increase their scientific understanding, immerse themselves in environmental issues, and to advocate as active citizens in policies and regulations to abate pollution. As such, it is an important activity that should be supported, strengthened, and mainstreamed in the region.
IPEN-SEA’s virtual conference is a 4-part series that would provide a platform for regional stakeholders to discuss and advance citizen science approaches towards environmental justice, citizens’ empowerment, gender equity, and health promotion in addressing urban pollution from toxic chemicals. The virtual regional event aims to enhance citizen science capabilities in a regional network of NGOs, through sharing and exchange of:
Citizen science experiences of various NGOs and communities
Tools and perspectives in citizens science for addressing community toxic chemical exposure
Policy impacts of citizen science initiatives towards the reduction of environmental and health impacts of urban pollution from toxic chemical exposure