Open Access (free)
Environmental justice and citizen science in a post-truth age
Editors: Thom Davies and Alice Mah

This book examines the relationship between environmental justice and citizen science, focusing on enduring issues and new challenges in a post-truth age. Debates over science, facts, and values have always been pivotal within environmental justice struggles. For decades, environmental justice activists have campaigned against the misuses of science, while at the same time engaging in community-led citizen science. However, post-truth politics has threatened science itself. This book makes the case for the importance of science, knowledge, and data that are produced by and for ordinary people living with environmental risks and hazards. The international, interdisciplinary contributions range from grassroots environmental justice struggles in American hog country and contaminated indigenous communities, to local environmental controversies in Spain and China, to questions about “knowledge justice,” citizenship, participation, and data in citizen science surrounding toxicity. The book features inspiring studies of community-based participatory environmental health and justice research; different ways of sensing, witnessing, and interpreting environmental injustice; political strategies for seeking environmental justice; and ways of expanding the concepts and forms of engagement of citizen science around the world. While the book will be of critical interest to specialists in social and environmental sciences, it will also be accessible to graduate and postgraduate audiences. More broadly, the book will appeal to members of the public interested in social justice issues, as well as community members who are thinking about participating in citizen science and activism. Toxic Truths includes distinguished contributing authors in the field of environmental justice, alongside cutting-edge research from emerging scholars and community activists.

Open Access (free)
Science, activism, and policy concerning chemicals in our bodies
Phil Brown, Vanessa De La Rosa and Alissa Cordner

1 Toxic trespass: Science, activism, and policy concerning chemicals in our bodies Phil Brown, Vanessa De La Rosa, and Alissa Cordner Exposure to chemical trespassers is ubiquitous for all people, with a daily onslaught of air particulates from factories and power plants, parabens in personal care products, phthalates and bisphenol (BPA) in consumer products, flame retardants in furniture, radiation from uranium mine tailings, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in fish and marine mammals, and trichloroethylene (TCE) from common industrial usage. The US Centers for

in Toxic truths
Open Access (free)
A tool of environmental justice in Ecuadorian toxic tours
Amelia Fiske

5 The auger: A tool of environmental justice in Ecuadorian toxic tours Amelia Fiske The well platform is quiet in the afternoon heat of the Amazon. Two school-­ aged children in matching uniforms wander across the empty dirt rectangle carved out of the forest on their way home. I am with a group of photographers, on a “Toxic Tour” to document the pollution left in the soil after two decades of extraction by the Texaco Company1 in Ecuador. Although Texaco left the country in the 1990s, oil extraction has since continued with the state and other foreign companies

in Toxic truths
Open Access (free)
Tackling environmental injustice in a post-truth age
Thom Davies and Alice Mah

year, defining it as: “denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Two years later, the OED’s word of the year was toxic, chosen because of the “the sheer scope of its a­ pplication … ­in an array of contexts, both in its literal and more metaphorical senses.” For all of these worrying trends, it is tempting to make proclamations about imminent global catastrophe and the novelty of our toxic, post-­truth times. However, the Brave New World has been heralded for decades

in Toxic truths
Peter C. Little

6 Witnessing e-­waste through participatory photography in Ghana Peter C. Little Introduction Drawing on extended ethnographic research in Agbogbloshie, an urban scrapyard in Accra, Ghana that has become the subject of a contentious electronic waste (e-­waste) narrative, this chapter explores the extent to which citizen1 photography and similar participatory visual research efforts augment contemporary toxic studies in general and e-­waste studies in particular. Attuned to the visual promises, politics, and possibilities of photography in toxic landscapes

in Toxic truths
Open Access (free)
Thom Davies

Introduction to Part II Thom Davies Pollution surrounds us all. From the clothes we wear, to the way we travel, to our consumption choices, we are ­all – ­in highly uneven ­ways – ­creators and repositories of environmental damage. Toxicants have become increasingly ubiquitous in everyday life, and toxic potential suspends itself between absolute mundanity and perpetual threat. Yet despite the ever-­present realities of contamination and environmental damage, pollution is often very difficult to sense or witness. Hazardous substances, for example, are often

in Toxic truths
Open Access (free)
Alice Mah

Introduction to Part III Alice Mah Science and politics are impossible to disentangle within environmental justice (EJ) struggles. What counts as legitimate data, and whose voices count? How can local communities that face disproportionate toxic burdens effectively mobilize science to support their campaigns for environment justice? Scientific evidence of toxic exposure is often not sufficient to ensure adequate compensation, remediation, or recognition (Boudia and Jas 2014). As the epidemiologist and environmental justice activist Steve Wing (2005, 55) argued

in Toxic truths
Open Access (free)
Thom Davies

, may be won and lost by the crunch of code. If data is the new oil, when it comes to actual pollution, data also plays a vital role. The pollution data produced by multinational companies and environmental regulators is often at odds with the lived experience of frontline communities. In response, environmental justice activists have often attempted to record their own data about toxic hazards using a gamut of citizen science techniques. This is especially important considering that the burden of proof of DAVIES & MAH 9781526137029 PRINT.indd 237 08/06/2020 15

in Toxic truths
Open Access (free)
Alice Mah

Introduction to Part I Alice Mah The dumping of highly toxic PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in Warren County, North Carolina sparked the first national protest by African Americans against environmental racism in 1982. In a special issue entitled “Water Contamination: Citizens Respond” in Science for the Public, a left-­wing American magazine on science and technology which ran between 1969 and 1989, Geiser and Waneck (1983) published an article on “PCBs and Warren County.” The authors argued that the decision to site the PCB waste in Afton in Warren County

in Toxic truths
Environmental enumeration, justice, and apprehension
Nicholas Shapiro, Nasser Zakariya and Jody A. Roberts

-­year stint after a DUI (“driving under the influence”) saddled him with a sizable debt. Cutting down debt or building up a nest egg were the only two justifications I heard for subjecting oneself to the Bakken. If we do resist the stock dramas of science and technology, the promises of empowerment and of making the invisible visible as data points, we can see beyond the individual toxicity or lack thereof to understand the widespread patterns, cultural forms, building practices, and commodity pathways that purvey harms well beyond the molecular register. In this light, we

in Toxic truths