Charleston Area Pollution Prevention Partnership (CAPs)


In 2021, Charleston, SC will open a new marine container terminal that will add 1.4 million more containers each year, nearly doubling the port’s volume, and likely increasing air pollutants in nearby communities already disproportionately burdened by environmental hazards and poor air quality, as shown by prior research. The pollutants will come from emissions from goods movement vehicles, such as ships, trucks and dock transports, and increased rail traffic, all of which prior experience shows will further degrade air quality.

For more than ten years, an innovative community-university-government partnership, known as the Charleston Area Pollution Prevention Partnership between the Low Country Alliance for Model Communities (LAMC), Charleston Community Research to Action Board (CCRAB), the University of Maryland, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), the University of South Carolina (USC), and the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) has been working to assess environmental pollution, exposure disparities, and public health issues in economically distressed communities in the Charleston region impacted by goods movement and other local industrial activity before the Charleston port expansion.  Guided by the community-based participatory research (CBPR) framework and collaborative-problem solving model (CPSM) principles, CAPs has an overarching goal to address environmental injustice, public health, and revitalization issues in North Charleston, South Carolina (SC).

Through this authentic and transformative collaborative partnership, we have shown a positive impact in neighborhoods of concern through air pollution monitoring efforts, education of residents on local environmental health issues, GIS mapping of hazard-related burden disparities, and use of novel tools to build capacity of residents to be more engaged in local environmental decision-making, Through this partnership, we have shut down the Charleston County incinerator, changed zoning, improved access to green space, and helped with mitigation of negative impacts from the port expansion.  We are currently providing technical assistance to LAMC and CCRAB on resiliency efforts including establishment of an environmental benefits district. In addition, we are working to build a hyperlocal community-based air quality monitoring network in the region.

Read more about our work in Charleston:

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