Title page for ETD etd-04162012-143240


Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Hinton, Corrinthia Marie
URN etd-04162012-143240
Title Influences on Behavior Adaptions to Reduce Exposures to Environmental Hazards Among Residents of Louisiana's Upper Industrial Corridor
Degree Master of Science (M.S.)
Department Environmental Sciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Reams, Margaret Committee Chair
Lam, Nina Committee Member
Wascom, Michael Committee Member
Keywords
  • exposure risk
  • risk reduction
  • environmental hazards
  • adaptive behavior
Date of Defense 2012-03-16
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
Over the past century, the growth in petrochemical manufacturing within Louisiana’s Upper Industrial Corridor brought economic development, but also introduced toxic emissions and environmental exposure risks to residents of the area. For the citizens living in close proximity to multiple facilities there is the added risk of chemical exposure from environmentally hazardous accidents. This study seeks to gain insights into patterns of risk-reducing behaviors of residents in East Baton Rouge Parish so that better educational outreach programs can be developed. This research addresses the following questions: To what extent are residents of Baton Rouge taking steps to reduce environmental exposure risks? What factors may influence adoption of exposure-reducing behavior? For this study, “adaptive behaviors” are: the adoption of a household emergency plan, more frequent checking of daily air quality ratings, and changing plans for outdoor activities on bad air quality days. Interviews with 68 residents were conducted to learn about their environmental knowledge and risk perceptions, and the extent to which they have adopted these three risk-reducing behaviors. Factors that may influence such adaptive behaviors include income, education, and proximity to regulated facilities, length of residence in the community, risk knowledge levels, and membership in local environmental groups, among other factors. The research also explores differences between interviewees living in zip codes with Toxic Release Inventory reporting facilities and those living in zip codes that do not contain the facilities.

The statistical analyses indicated that demographics, such as age or education levels, and membership in local environmental groups may not play a major role in implementing these adaptive behaviors. Rather, the analysis indicates that residents who have adopted household environmental emergency plans are more informed and have a higher degree of confidence in their own knowledge of hazards and options to reduce exposure risks. Also they tended to know about and adopt other exposure-reducing behaviors. Information gained through this analysis suggests that exposure-reducing behaviors tend to be linked, and that educational outreach programs may need to focus first on effective ways to simply inform residents of risk levels and exposure-reducing strategies in order to increase their awareness and confidence in their abilities to make themselves safer.

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