Informing Environmental Health through Community-Engaged Research: Testing for Lead in Drinking Water in the Mississippi Delta

Author(s): Green, J.; Fratesi, M.; Woo, L.; Willett, K.; Thornton, C.; Avula, B.; Khan, I.; Otts, S.; Janasie, C.

A variety of frameworks—including community based, participatory, action-oriented, and citizen science research—are being increasingly recognized as helping to engage community members with understanding and improving environmental health. Potential exposure to lead through drinking water is one among many important issues warranting this type of work. This poster will provide an introduction to community engaged research and then describe an interdisciplinary program connecting the University of Mississippi (UM) with community organizations in the Delta region of the state to test for lead. Working through an interdisciplinary collaborative consisting of the UM National Sea Grant Law Center, School of Pharmacy Division of Environmental Toxicology, and Center for Population Studies, researchers have partnered with nonprofit organization, community health centers, and Mississippi State University Extension to conduct outreach, education, and research with residents from across a nine-county region. This includes participants completing household surveys and submitting drinking water samples. Beyond providing results and recommendations back to individual households and populating a novel dataset, the data are being integrated with publicly available demographic, socioeconomic, and housing data to help inform recommended strategies for additional targeted water testing. Illustrative findings will be shared through the poster, emphasizing the associations between individual and aggregate housing characteristics, thereby demonstrating the importance of community engaged approaches to environmental health research.

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