urban area of Tampa, Florida, and serves as an instrumental case study of how an urban locale can address problems of environmental health and safety. Specifically, this study assesses the failures and successes of Tampa to regulate and reduce water, air and waste pollution through various programs. Through quantitative analysis of city managers' statistics and survey of the population (random sampling), findings indicate that positive steps have been taken through initiatives like S.W.E.E.P. and the attention given to Tampa's estuaries and water sources so as to maintain healthy ecosystems. However, air pollution has yet to be addressed, as the state has eliminated its vehicle emissions testing. Coal-burning power plants like Big Bend also contribute to air pollution and a discussion of the beneficial impact of wind power is provided as a recommendation for addressing this issue.
Environmental Health and Safety Case Study: Tampa, Florida
Urban areas in the U.S. are impacted by several types of pollutants, whether air or waste or water pollution. This study focuses on a specific urban area in Florida in the city of Tampa to assess how the city is addressing the issue of environmental health and safety and what its city managers could do to more effectively address these specific factors of air, waste and water pollution. This study will use an observation and survey methodology to analyze the findings of this instrumental case study, which is phenomenological in nature and helpful in determining both a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the overall situation (Creswell, 2007; Lin, 2013).
The problem addressed in this study is that water, air and waste pollution are problems that need to be addressed in urban areas. The research question posed is: What can an urban area do to address these problems? A survey method of a random sample of inhabitants of Tampa, Florida, was taken in order to assess on a scale of 1-5 (using the Likert model) the impact of the measures adopted by Tampa city managers to address issues of pollution in the city. This survey is designed to rate the consensus opinion on whether or not these measures have been effective or if the populace feels that the pollution problem is not being adequately addressed.
This study is limited in terms of locale and scope: its focus is on measures adopted to protect environmental health and promote safety engineering with regard to ensuring safe drinking water, safer air to breathe and a reduction of waste pile-up. The findings are both qualitative and quantitative in number, as figures that are incorporated into the analysis include the city's management team's own assessment of the projects undertaken to address the problems of pollution (which are quantitative) as well as the researcher's own assessment of the population's view on the projects' effectiveness (qualitative findings).
Effective waste disposal has been a priority in Tampa, Florida for a number of years as researchers and engineers attempt to come up with technological advancements to better the surrounding coastal environment. Tampa is home to more than 300,000 people in a county area of almost 3 million. Statistically speaking, it is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the state of Florida, and for that reason, waste disposal is of eminent concern, as the community looks to preserve its coastal dignity while dealing with waste issues.
Annually, Tampa's Waste Department processes more than 350,000 tons of waste, which is used to generate electricity at the area's Refuse-to-Energy Facility. That is approximately one ton of waste per year per citizen within the county. To effectively deal with the amount of waste generated in Tampa, a new recycling program was initiated in 2013 in which large recycling carts replaced smaller bins for curbside recycling collection. This simple yet effective way of encouraging recycling has allowed recycling rates to double in the Tampa area (City of Tampa, 2013).
Another problem in Tampa is air pollution. This is, in fact, a global problem and is not isolated solely to urban areas. Outdoor air pollution is a leading environmental cause of cancer deaths. It is not safe to breathe because is harmfully impacts the lungs and the body. Indeed, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) under the World Health Organization (WHO) "has classified outdoor air pollution as a cancer-causing agent" (Simon, 2013). It is responsible for both lung and bladder cancer.
Particulate matter is also a carcinogen that the IARC has classified, and it can include anything from dust to chemicals to smoke. All of that contributes to air pollution -- whether smog, exhaust, fumes from factories, smoke, chemicals, dust, etc. Thus, the criteria for air pollution is anything that contaminates the air -- any particle that acts as a carcinogen (which is damaging to the lungs and cardiovascular system if inhaled) is a pollutant and causes air pollution. WHO (2013) notes that outdoor air pollution is not safe to breathe because it is "carcinogenic to humans" (p. 1).
Strategies for Promoting Positive Environmental Behavior
The strategy utilized by Tampa's local government in promoting recycling is one way of encouraging positive environmental behavior within the community. The call for larger recycling receptacles is indicative of an overall progressive mood among citizens and an awareness of the environmental impact of waste. Recycling programs such as the one in Tampa provide concerned members of the community with the ability to take matters into their own hands: it is a simple exercise of informed wills. As researchers Jenkins, Martinez, Palmer, and Podolsky (2003) observe, "access to curbside recycling has a significant positive effect" when it comes to glass, plastic, aluminum and yard waste (p. 294). Their quantitative study of twenty metropolitan areas, including Tampa, shows that communities that provide curbside pick-up of materials designated for recycling make a significantly positive impact on environmental behavior. For Tampa, which has recently enlarged its designated receptacles from small bins to large carts, the sense that positive environmental attitudes are becoming wider and more popular is evident.
Another strategy being utilized in Tampa is the S.W.E.E.P. program which allows residents to place larger items, such as carpets, furniture, appliances, tires, toilets, and mattresses to curb for recycling pickup. This program allows the city to maintain an added degree of waste disposal responsibility. Tampa has also partnered with Habitat for Humanity, which restores old items and gives them to the needy. So this waste disposal program kills two birds with one stone: it helps to decrease unnecessary waste pile-up and it helps to serve the needs of the local community's impoverished.
Both of these strategies are effective in Tampa, as the statistics indicate (City of Tampa, 2013).
As for addressing the issue of air pollution, Tampa has more work to do. State and local laws concerning air and water pollution were ineffective, leading the federal government to pass legislation in the 1970s, primarily because they did not address consistently across the nation the issue in the same manner. There was no uniformity. So while one area of one state could be strict on air and water pollution in terms of laws, another area could be lax and with more relaxed laws. Facilities and factory owners would go to the areas with less strict laws in order to operate. Thus, the air and water of the world would continue to be polluted.
Because of this lack of uniformity at the state and local level, the federal government was obliged to pass across-the-board legislation that made the law the same no matter where one was. The federal law trumped the state and local laws. However, it has proven to be not enough in terms of deterring people from producing air pollution. Thus, the federal government should take even more steps to curb this problem. As Kessler (2014) notes, "Everybody is exposed to it," and in just 2010 alone there were 223,000 "lung-cancer deaths" caused by air pollution (Kessler, 2014). That is an overwhelming figure. Air pollution is virtually an epidemic in terms of disease: it is deadly and spreading and everyone is at risk because there is no way to contain it. Thus, the policies which allow it to happen should be reversed. Governments should step up and take control of the situation by outlawing productions that contribute to air pollution, no matter what good they are providing.
How Positive and Negative Consequences Can Increase Pro-Environmental Behavior
Positive consequences of recycling are evident in the satisfaction and confidence that a community like Tampa evinces when it embarks on programs like S.W.E.E.P. and the addition of large recycling carts for curbside pickup. Cleaner streets and cleaner communities go a long way in instilling communal pride.
Negative consequences of not recycling are evident in such places as e-waste landfills where toxic chemicals seep into the ground and make their way to water supplies. Likewise, Tampa's beaches are very important to the city and keeping them free from pollution is important to its citizens and visitors.
Also, there are expenses that residents must pay for consuming energy, and…
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Ackermannn, T., Soder, L. (2000). Wind energy technology and current status: a review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 4(4): 315-374.
Boyle, G. (2012). Renewable Energy: Power for a Sustainable Future. UK: Oxford.
City of Tampa. (2013). Solid Waste Recycling. Tampagov.net. Retrieved from http://www.tampagov.net/solid-waste/programs/automated-recycling
Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing among