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Statistics for Action

Do you want to know how soil or air samples are taken, or how to interpret test results? There’s a great resource available that can help answer these questions about your community. It’s called Statistics for Action. You can access it for free at https://sfa.terc.edu/ .

Statistics for Action (SfA) is a partnership between several environmental organizations and TERC, a not-for-profit based in Cambridge, MA with a mission to provide quality teaching and learning in math and science. From 2008-2013, TERC, Toxics Action Center, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and others developed and piloted materials designed to help community-based groups make better use of scientific information.

SfA offers resources to help groups and individuals:

  • Understand concepts and terms involved in environmental testing
  • Analyze data and claims critically to find the story behind the data
  • Identify risks to their own or their community’s health
  • Communicate clearly about data to decision-makers and the wider community

Included on the website are a series of guides that describe different environmental testing methods such as water quality, soil testing and air monitoring. There’s also a guide on the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) state cancer profiles including how to navigate local, state, and nationwide data on cancer trends. Each guide offers advice about what to look out for and how communities can get involved.

The SfA website also includes training materials and fact sheets that can be used to hold workshops on a wide range of technical topics including making sense of the data, converting between units, comparing your data to standards, mapping data, assessing risks and generating memorable messages. Each topic area begins with an introduction called “A First Look” which provides key hints on how to understand the topic.

There’s something for everyone here whether you’re just getting started or are a veteran activist. You can gain skills and power to win your fight not just by having information, but by knowing how to use it strategically. Don’t hesitate to contact CHEJ with any questions about testing or interpreting results.