The overarching goal of this proposal is to educate community members on environmental justice issues related to long term health effects from proximity to aging, hazardous industrial sites. We will focus on the communities of West and South Ambler, PA, where residents have had continuous occupational and environmental exposure to asbestos since the turn of the 20th century. Our proposal includes the use of a university-community-educational institution partnership to 1) develop an innovative museum exhibit that enables community members to relate the history of this community, 2) provide materials and resources that will challenge students and community based researchers to think about and address health problems in new ways, 3) enable community action groups to speak for the community in responsible ways, and to 4) serve as a case study for other communities that face similar challenges. Our proposal is responsive to PAR-10-206, NCRR Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) (R25) as it provides education and resource support to K-12 students, college students and disenfranchised adult community members to investigate and address the significant health problems associated with exposure to asbestos. In order to achieve this goal, we will accomplish the following specific aims:
Aim one : Document the history of lower income African American and Italian immigrant asbestos workers, their families and their neighbors in West and South Ambler, PA from the period 1930 to the present.
Aim two : Develop an accessible repository of documents, photographs, life stories, news media, and scientific data about the communities of South and West Ambler that can be used as resource material for students, community researchers and action committees.
Aim Three : Evaluate the reach, penetration, and actions that result from project activities.
Aim Four : Engage a diverse group of stakeholders in the industrially impacted community to think and act creatively about issues that affect health and welfare. Our overall goal and specific aims have emerged from a close partnership among Ambler community members, interdisciplinary faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, and the Associate Director of the Environmental History and Policy Program at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia, PA. Consequently, we will continue to use a community based participatory research approach in our work to ensure that the goals of the project reflect community generated goals, research methods, and analyses.

Public Health Relevance

The goal of this proposal is to develop a new paradigm for addressing environmental justice issues that affect public health. We will develop an innovative educational exhibit and resource support for K-12 students, college students and disenfranchised adult community members to investigate and address the significant health problems associated with exposure to industrial hazards.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Office of The Director, National Institutes of Health (OD)
Education Projects (R25)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRR1-CR-9 (01))
Program Officer
Beck, Lawrence A
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University of Pennsylvania
Family Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Clapp, Justin T; Roberts, Jody A; Dahlberg, Britt et al. (2016) Realities of environmental toxicity and their ramifications for community engagement. Soc Sci Med 170:143-151