Middle-Income African-Americans and Household Hazardous Waste Management: Designing Messages for Adult Environmental Education

Harper, K. M. (1999). Middle-income African-Americans and household hazardous waste management: Designing messages for adult environmental education. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering., 59, 7-B,

The purpose of this study was to (1) explore the awareness and behavior of middle-income African American parents regarding the identification, storage, and disposal of household hazardous waste, (2) investigate attitudes regarding community environmental pollution and preferred information sources, and (3) make recommendations for designing environmental education programs for middle-income African American populations. The study was conducted in Hillsborough County, Florida. Qualitative and quantitative research methods were used to address seven research questions. Qualitative methods included fifteen direct observations, thirty-two elite interviews, four focus group discussions and twenty individual interviews, while quantitative data were collected through a household survey of 262 single-family residences that met selection criteria of African American parents with children under ten years old. Qualitative data were analyzed through text coding and theme categorization. Survey data were entered into a database with EPI INFO software and analyzed statistically using the SAS program. For bivariate and multivariate data analysis, the dependent variables were categorized into environmental concern, environmental knowledge, and environmental behavior. A series of logistic regression analyses were performed to determine the best predictive models for the dependent variables. The study findings highlight a high level of concern but low participation in household-hazardous waste management, perceptions of the 'environment' in the population, the association between environmental concern level and resident age, the association between environmentalism and religiosity, reasons for the lack of African American involvement in environmental issues, and the association between the type of hazardous chemicals in the home and household income level. It is recommended that environmental education programs for African American populations should incorporate cultural aspects of environmental issues, particularly religious influences in this ethnic group. Future research should address the connection between religiosity and environmental behavior. Study limitations, further recommendations for designing an environmental education program for African Americans and other future research recommendations are suggested.

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