Project Coordinator: Carolyn Bell
Many low-income communities and people of color suffer a
disproportionate burden of environmental hazards and the various health
problems associated with poor quality air, water and toxic exposure. Often,
these communities are also victims of environmental racism and the
discriminatory enforcement of environmental laws and regulations, resulting
in high rates of disease, birth defects and sometimes early death.
CBTU is part of the growing environmental justice movement
that empowers community-based organizations to identify harmful or
discriminatory conditions, mobilize their constituencies, and resolve local
environmental health problems. In 1998, CBTU initiated an environmental
action strategy. Several CBTU chapters have formed
Community Action and Response Against Toxics (CARAT) teams, which —
along with other safety and environmental allies — help to educate and
monitor issues such as illegal waste dumping and hauling in poor
The CARAT Team Program is hugely popular with CBTU
- A national CARAT Team
training program has been created.
- CBTU members can receive
Emergency Response training, Train-the Trainer instruction, and Advanced
Technical Skills training.
- Community toxics
conferences have been held in several cities to raise awareness.
- The national CARAT
Toxic Awareness & Training Conference draws overflow attendance at the
CBTU annual national convention.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE C.A.R.A.T TEAM
Who makes up CARAT Teams?
The teams are comprised of trade unionists, affected
residents, environmental justice advocates, legislators, community leaders,
scientists, and other persons interested in a collective environmental
health protection effort.
What do CARAT Teams do?
- Organize grassroots
community rallies, marches, demonstrations, etc.
- Serve as liaison between
community-based minority groups and environmental advocacy organizations
- Assess the needs of the
community and help propose solutions.
- Refer environmental health
issues to the appropriate agencies.
- Register CARAT teams in
public libraries and other
- Provide environmental
hazard information to public libraries and community-based organizations.
- Meet regularly and submit
activity reports to the CBTU leadership.
How do CARAT Teams work with other
environmental justice groups?
CARAT Teams do not replace existing environmental
justice activities. These teams collaborate with existing grassroots efforts
to help coordinate and empower community-based organizations to raise
awareness, mobilize their constituencies, and resolve environmental health
How can I form a CARAT Team in my city?
- Contact your local CBTU
- Host a CARAT Team
organizing meeting with potential stakeholders
- Develop operational
guidelines for your chapter's CARAT Team
- Establish and prioritize
local environmental health issues
- Form a liaison with the
local Emergency Planning Committee
- Develop strategies to raise
community awareness and support for your issues
- Identify educational
institutions to serve as resources for research and education
Which CBTU chapters currently host CARAT
- Northern California
- North Central New Jersey
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Jackson, Mississippi
- Cincinnati, Ohio
- Detroit, Michigan
- Memphis, Tennessee
- St. Louis, Missouri