Skip to main content

Inspections, education part of EGLE Environmental Justice initiatives

Air Quality Division (AQD) staff from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) have engaged in several projects over the last year focused in environmental justice (EJ) areas of the state. Two of the projects were done in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The other was an inspection initiative led by AQD staffer Eric Grinstern.

Erica Wolf, Chuku Oje, and Jenine Camilleri present at the Flint Learning Sessions.

EGLE staffers Erica Wolf, Chuku Oje, and Jenine Camilleri present at the Flint Learning Sessions.


The EGLE and EPA partnership projects were part of an EPA initiative to work with EGLE’s air quality staff to identify areas of the state where an air quality initiative may be beneficial to the community and where assistance could be provided that may not be as readily available to that community through other resources. The goal was to survey and involve community partners in deciding where the focus should be and what type of activities would be the most helpful. Check out EPA’s Air Quality Partnerships with Communities page for more information on community air quality projects.

The inspection initiative included identifying foundries in environmental justice communities using set parameters, doing focused compliance inspections, and taking additional actions, if necessary. This project served as a pilot to determine whether similar initiatives may be done in the future.

Flint Community Initiative Project

The Flint Community project began in October 2021. EPA began the project by surveying a wide variety of community members and advocacy groups active in recent AQD decisions. Community partners on this project were very active and involved in helping develop a variety of project outcomes. These included:

  • Joint inspections by EPA and EGLE staff
  • Indoor air education (EPA)
  • Providing radon test kits (EGLE and EPA)
  • Materials for Corsi-Rosenthal boxes (EPA)
  • Indoor Air Quality Assessments at four Flint Schools (EPA)
  • Flint Air Quality Learning Session (Community partners, EGLE, EPA)

The air quality learning session took place in April 2023 and was an opportunity for community members to meet and talk with staff from EPA and the AQD about air monitoring, permitting, compliance and enforcement. Community partners played a large role in helping to coordinate, plan, advertise the event. The partnership is what made the meeting a success. The meeting took place at the Sylvester Brome Empowerment Village in Flint, with participants online as well (watch the recording). The session was well received in the community. More sessions are being scheduled.

Eastside of Detroit Community Initiative Project

The eastside of Detroit was another area recommended by AQD. The project started in August 2022 with EPA staff talking to a variety of community members and environmental advocacy groups as well as the City of Detroit. Most of the people involved had been active in recent air quality actions in the area.

This project is still ongoing, but there are several actions that have taken place or are in the works, including:

  • Joint inspections by EPA and EGLE staff.
  • EPA and EGLE joint presentation to community group on the different roles and responsibility the agencies have regarding air quality.
  • Development of a baseline air quality report for Detroit.
  • Working as advisors to the City of Detroit on air monitoring grant funding.

AQD Inspection Initiative

Senior AQD inspector and foundry specialist Eric Grinstern determined how many secondary metal production facilities are in EJ areas and to evaluate the compliance status of those facilities. A source was determined to be located within an EJ area if the community within a 1-mile radius of a facility was determined to be an EJ community if EPA’s EJSCREEN showed indicators in the 75% or higher for any of the following indicators - People of Color Population, Low Income Population, Limited English Speaking, Demographic Index (average of low-income and people of color).

The initiative looked at 28 different foundries subject to various state and federal regulations and ultimately focused on 13 secondary metal production facilities. These facilities had complete compliance investigations done, which led to 18 violation notices. Additional enforcement actions are being considered in some instances. 

“Engaging with our state’s communities is important. It is especially important when it focus around our work outside of a specific action, like a permit. Our staff feel a strong connection to the communities they live, work, and play in. They want to be of service and help residents in any way we can,” said AQD Division Director Annette Switzer.

EGLE’s AQD continually looks for opportunities to engage with the public and support environmental advocacy groups in and outside of EJ communities. Projects like the Flint and Eastside Detroit Community Initiatives allowed AQD to engage with community and agency partners in new ways.

Using inspection initiatives like the three highlighted here, further ensures EJ communities and industrial facilities located there get the attention they need so air quality is protected, and rules and regulations are adhered to.