The communities residing close to industrially contaminated sites are often affected by several fragilities, particularly of a socioeconomic nature. The disadvantaged conditions have often resulted from their marginalization in the decision-making related to the industrialization processes and may persist even when action is taken to limit the harmful consequences for the natural and social environment. Exposure to contaminants and the resulting health risks often regard socioeconomic deprived communities or the most disadvantaged subgroups, generating conditions of environmental injustice. This paper reports the results of a multidisciplinary reflection focusing on the Italian context. It describes how the national epidemiological surveillance system of communities residing close to industrially contaminated sites (named SENTIERI) and local epidemiological surveillance systems can be implemented to document local conditions of distributive injustice (inequalities in harmful exposures and consequent health risks). Furthermore, it analyses the mechanisms for generating and maintaining marginalities that prevent local communities from participating in decision-making processes (procedural injustice). Finally, after having identified and described the dimensions of community capacity, which concern both to the understanding of the adverse effects of environmental contamination and to the capability of promoting interventions against environmental injustices, it proposes an environmental justice promotion approach that starts from mapping the dimensions of community capacity as a premise to the identification of interventions for community empowerment. Keywords: environmental justice, industrially contaminated sites, epidemiological surveillance, community capacity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health