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Evaluating the Effectiveness of Bioretention Rain Gardens in Removing Pollutants Associated with Tire Dumping and Roadside Pollution

Environmental justice research has shown that low income neighborhoods and communities of color, such as those in Southwest Detroit, are more likely to experience higher levels of pollution. In the Southwest Detroit, residential and commercial areas are in close proximity to ongoing heavy industries and high-volume transportation corridors, increasing concerns about the local air and surface water quality. These challenges are further exacerbated by illegal dumping, with piles of garbage, particularly used tires, frequently dumped in this community. These dumping sites may be accumulating toxic levels of heavy metals that can cause serious health issues such as cancer.

This project aims to test the soil of illegal dumping sites and identify strategies to remove and transform these sites by constructing two bioretention areas. Bioretention rain gardens utilize physical, chemical, and biological removal mechanisms to improve stormwater quality before discharge into the environment.

This project not only increases our knowledge of rain gardens’ water quality impacts, but also contributes to better understanding the importance of bioretention in addressing poverty and environmental justice inequities through improving the quality of the local environment, reducing residents’ exposure to hazardous contaminants, and adding green space.

Larissa Larsen, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning
U-M Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

Sarah J. Clark
Director of Programs Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision

Andrea R. McFarland, Ph.D. Candidate
U-M Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Nancy G. Love, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering