EPA’s Work with AAPI Communities
The mission of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is to protect human health and the environment. A guiding theme is to expand the conversation on environmentalism and work for environmental justice. As a member of the Interagency Working Group for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), I work to increase the conversation and draw attention to the unique issues of AAPI communities. EPA has committed to ensuring that AAPIs enjoy full opportunities in the workforce, partnering with Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISI), and addressing the concerns of AAPI communities.
For example, many AAPI women who work in nail salons are exposed to chemicals. EPA is working to reduce this exposure by providing information on best practices, examining alternatives to chemicals used in the nail salon industry, and coordinating our efforts with those of other federal agencies. EPA has also announced in the next year we will be doing a research project with our partners to monitor indoor air in nail salons before and after improving practices in the salon so that we can determine the impact changes can make.
Other EPA programs are also improving the lives of AAPI communities. This year as part of the competitive Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grant Program, EPA funded three grants of $300,000 each that will specifically target communities which include Asian American populations in Richmond, California; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Chicago, Illinois. Under the program, grantees recruit, train, and place residents from solid and hazardous waste-impacted communities in jobs. Residents learn the skills needed to secure full-time, sustainable employment in the environmental field, including a focus on assessment and cleanup activities. These grants will help to create green jobs that reduce environmental contamination and build more sustainable futures for communities. EPA is also increasing its outreach to AAPI communities under this and other programs.
This year, we are looking for other ways to increase the conversation and information to AAPI communities through our programs, including our Limited English Proficiency efforts, and by focusing on information we have to solve unique issues in the communities such as exposure due to higher levels of fish consumption. By working with AAPI communities and listening to their concerns, EPA can help these and other Americans achieve a better standard of living.
Having been born in Sri Lanka and immigrating to America with my family as a child to pursue freedom, education and opportunities, I take particular pride in our work at EPA to connect AAPIs across this country to their government.
Mathy Stanislaus serves as Assistant Administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.